Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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Risk assessment and management options for fumonisins in maize based complementary foods in Tanzania

Martin Epafras KIMANYA researcher nominated

°1968 Tanzania
Master in Food Science and Technology, Universiteit Gent, Belgium, 1999

Risk assessment and management options for fumonisins in maize based complementary foods in Tanzania

This research yields a new, significant contribution to an environmental problem of concern to nutritionists for over 40 years: food contamination by the toxic substances produced by mould, known as mycotoxins. Firstly, problems were encountered with aflatoxin in West Africa; more recently, with fumonisins in Africa and Latin America.

In Tanzania the maize grown by peasant families and fed to small children as a complementary food is often contaminated and may cause faltering growth. The present research aimed at studying maize consumption, measuring the extent of this contamination and determining the causes and risk, estimating its repercussions on children’s height and weight, and identifying strategies for reducing contamination among children. It was mostly concerned with fumonisins.

Using strict sampling and well-conducted cross-sectional and longitudinal observations, this investigation shows that contamination rates are directly tied to the type of production and storage of the maize. The repercussions of the presence of fumonisins on children’s height and weight gains were corroborated.

Furthermore, this research shows that the mycotoxin problem should be approached comprehensively, including practical measures for the cultivation, transportation, and storage of maize as well as its preparation for consumption (measures clearly illustrated by the author); maize should be at least partially replaced by other cereal grains in infant food; poverty must be combated.

This study’s contribution to development is obvious, and its conclusion has led the Tanzanian food control authority to revise the maximum mycotoxin levels tolerated in maize produced for human consumption.

report: Prof. emeritus I. Beghin, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerpen, Belgium, Honorary Titular Member of the Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences