What is Aflatoxin?
Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring chemicals produced by certain molds, especially aspergillus flavus and a. parasiticus. The main health concern of aflatoxin is their potential carcinogenicity. Chronic exposure to aflatoxins can increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
Aflatoxin-producing molds are common in nature, affecting a number of crops. In almonds, the source of the contamination is from the soil, previously infested almonds (mummy nuts), and Navel Orangeworm (NOW) or other pests. Spores of the molds can be transferred by now and grow on nutmeats that have been damaged. Favorable conditions for mold growth include high moisture content and high temperatures.
Because they are a carcinogen, tolerances for aflatoxin have been established by certain countries to reduce the risk of exposure.
When almonds are tested in the lab for aflatoxin and are found to have levels above the allowable limits by country, the consignment will have to be reconditioned or rejected, with significant monetary losses to the grower and handler.