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Vietnam farmers questioned about aflatoxin awareness

People in Southern Vietnam are more aware of the presence and danger of Aflatoxins B1 in food and feed than people in the Northern areas of the country. Also gender and education affects the knowledge about aflatoxins.

This was concluded from a study, done by Lee et al. from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). The study has been published in the World Mycotoxin Journal.

Limited studies in maize

Vietnam is a tropical country with high temperature and precipitation which may provide good conditions for fungal growth. But only a few limited studies have been conducted to evaluate the level of AFB1 in maize in Vietnam. AFB1 was detected in 17 out of 25 samples (68%) collected from North, Central and South Vietnam (Trung et al., 2008). Another study in North Vietnam found that 14 out of 15 samples were positive for AFB1, ranging between 9.4 and 96 μg/kg (Wang et al., 1995). In Southern Vietnam, a study showed that the positive rate for AFB1 was 91.7% (11/12) in maize for growing pigs and sows, with a mean concentration of 77.5 μg/kg (Thieu et al., 2008).

Samples from six provinces

However, those studies may not have had large enough sample sizes to properly evaluate the level of AFB1. In addition, no studies have been conducted to evaluate the perception and knowledge of aflatoxins in Vietnam. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to determine the levels of AFB1 in maize and evaluate perceptions and knowledge of aflatoxins among people across the country.

In this study, a total of 2,370 maize samples (for food and feed purpose) were collected from six provinces and analysed using ELISA. Among collected samples, 799 samples (33.71%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 31.81-35.66%) and 687 samples (28.98%, 95%CI: 27.17-30.86%) had levels above 2 μg/kg and 5 μg/kg, respectively [range from below limit of detection (LOD) to 34.8 μg/kg; of the samples above LOD, the mean was 13.1 μg/kg and median was 11.2 μg/kg]. In the figure below, the results for the feed samples are shown.

Awareness tested through questions

To test awareness, a total of 551 people were interviewed from six provinces. The survey showed that awareness of aflatoxins (question: Have you heard about aflatoxins?) in southern Vietnam [An Giang (25%), Dak Lak (23.23%) and Dong Nai (6%)] was relatively higher than in provinces in northern Vietnam. There was also a difference in awareness between age, sex, education and occupation.

Better understanding epidemiology

The authors conclude that this analysed information can be useful to better understand the epidemiology of aflatoxins in different provinces. This study also produces evidence on potential risk to humans and animals in Vietnam as well as demographic factors (such as gender and level of education) significantly influencing knowledge of aflatoxins. In conclusion, this paper points to the importance of raising the awareness of the risks with aflatoxins, bearing in mind the gender aspect during capacity development.

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