Food Safety and Quality:

Existing Detection and Control Programs Minimize Aflatoxin

RCED-91-109: Published: May 22, 1991. Publicly Released: May 22, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the risks posed by the presence of aflatoxin in the domestic food supply and efforts to detect and control aflatoxin levels.

GAO found that: (1) corn and peanuts were the crops most susceptible to aflatoxin contamination; (2) aflatoxin posed less of a domestic food safety risk than such other hazards as salmonella and listeria; (3) aflatoxin was more prevalent during a drought because low rainfall and high temperatures encourage the growth and survival of molds that produce it; (4) testing 100 percent of a susceptible crop was not possible, since the testing process destroyed the commodity; (5) there was no direct, causal evidence linking aflatoxin to liver cancer; (6) available test results indicated that the food supply was safe from high levels of aflatoxin; (7) federal, state, and industry programs were established to detect and control aflatoxin, but the varied nature of those programs contributed to a general lack of comprehensive information regarding the extent of aflatoxin outbreaks in crops; and (8) federal, state, and industry efforts appeared to be effective in minimizing aflatoxin in the domestic food supply.

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