Background: Mycotoxins have various serious health effects when consumed by humans and animals including, acute aflatoxicosis when consumed in high levels. Chronic exposure to low levels of contamination in crops increases liver cancer risk and can suppress the immune system, particularly for populations that test positive for the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Also when contaminated foods are consumed by young children can lead to stunting and growth impairment.
Methods: A cross-sectional study design was carried out at one-time point .A total of 296 participants were enrolled. Surveys were conducted to determine risk factors for mycotoxin contamination in cereal in Iringa municipality. The study involved 4 wards namely Kwakilosa, Mlandege, Kihesa and Ruaha, in which 2 streets were selected from each ward where a minimum of 25 respondents were selected in each street by using quota and convenience sampling techniques. A questionnaire was administered to assess community‟s level of knowledge on mycotoxin contamination in cereals. A checklist was used to explore the conditions and facilities used store cereal,
Results: Majority of respondents 71(36.2%) their age ranged 29-39 years, few being above 61 making up 3.6%. Also 87.2% did not have knowledge on mycotoxin contamination in cereals, while only 12.8% had knowledge on mycotoxin contamination in cereals which showed that 56.6% of the storage rooms were not properly ventilated, with proper ventilation were 43.4% of the total storage rooms. The study also revealed that majority 67.1% placed cereals in rooms with no ceilings, while also 60.8% leaned their cereal bags directly against the wall without leaving space contributing to favorable conditions for fungal growth as it increases the likelihood of cereal bags to absorb moisture from the wall, 86.7% cleaned their packaging material before use while only 46.9% and 44.8% cleaned their rooms and milling machines before storage or processing respectively. Majority 80.4% used woven sacks while 22.4% and 46.9% had pallets and tarpaulin respectively.
Conclusion: Majority of respondents 171 individuals equivalent to 87.2% did not have knowledge on mycotoxin contamination in cereals, while only 25 individuals equivalent to 12.8% had knowledge on mycotoxin contamination in cereals. While the storage conditions and facilities used, showed that majority of individuals 111(77.6%) piled up bags of cereals on bare floors (no pallets) and 87(60.8%) leaned them directly against the walls with majority of them 96(67.1%) placed under roofs with no ceiling.