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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Researchers Find Unsafe Levels of Mold Toxins in Foods Commonly Given to Infants and Toddlers in India

Complementary feeding may pose a risk of exposure to both aflatoxin M1 and deoxynivalenol (i.e., toxins produced by certain fungi) for Indian infants and toddlers, according to recent research from the University of South Carolina. The study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, was conducted in environmental health sciences (ENHS) assistant professor Dr. Anindya Chanda’s Integrative Mycology Lab in collaboration with ENHS clinical professor and chair Dr. Geoff Scott and associate professor Dr. James Burch (epidemiology and biostatistics) at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health.

In a mini-survey of 29 different foods produced by 21 different Indian manufacturers, the researchers examined the samples for the presence of various aflatoxins and deoxynivalenol. Purchased from local markets in Kolkata, India, these foods (e.g., formula, sugar, rice, bran, wheat, corn) are commonly used in formula and baby food products for the complementary feeding of infants and toddlers.

“Our analyses show that 100 percent of the samples contained aflatoxin M1 at levels 30 to 120 times higher than the recommended European Union levels and 15 to 60 times higher than the recommended levels in India,” says Dr. Chanda, who notes that the presence of aflatoxin M1 in milk-based foods suggests high contamination of cattle feeds. “We also found that 66 percent of the samples contained detectable concentrations of deoxynivalenol, with seven percent of the samples exceeding European Union guidelines for baby food products and more than 50 percent at levels that can lead to dietary intake higher than the levels recommended by the joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) expert committee on food additives.”

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