Researchers detect cancer causing aflatoxins in Guntur chilli samples

Researchers detect cancer causing aflatoxins in Guntur chilli samples

9:57 AM, 31st December 2018
chilli samples containing cancer causing aflatoxins

VIJAYAWADA, INDIA: High traces of aflatoxins, a poisonous substance produced by certain fungi capable of causing cancer, have been detected in chilli samples collected from various places in Guntur city.

Guntur chilli is famous in the International market for its pungency and unique flavour. The district produces about 2.80 lakh tonnes of chilli and is exported to numerous countries including the US, UK and the Middle east.

The result of the research was published in the latest issue of Asian Journal of Pharmaceutics. The study linked the presence of aflatoxins to direct contact with soil, unscientific handling and storage of the produce and exposure to humidity.

Researchers, who detected aflatoxins, suggested scientific preservation methods to avoid toxins in chilli, an essential in Telugu kitchens. Also, red chilli is widely used in Telugu states for pandu mirapa pachadi(pickle).

As part of the study, researchers from Krishna University in Machilipatnam and two postgraduate colleges in Vijayawada collected random samples from warehouses, small shops, houses, mirchi dumpyard, a supermarket, and market yard in Guntur. 

‘Preserving contaminated chillies in fridge harmful’  

Five of the seven samples analysed contained aflatoxins G1, G2, and B2. Aflatoxin G1 and B2 content was very high (21.32 nano grams per gram for G1 and 34.02 ng/g for B2). G2 aflatoxin was present in all the five samples. Apart from Krishna University, researchers from KBN PG College and PB Siddhartha College, Vijayawada, were also part of the study. The team comprised O Sailaja, G Krishnaveni and M Manoranjani.

Sailaja said these aflatoxins can cause cancers, and thus there is no maximum permissible limit. “The data presented in this study showed one of the highest levels of aflatoxin accumulation in red chili samples. Production of ground red chilli on surfaces with soil contact could be a major reason for the growth of fungi like Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus,” said Sailaja.

Aspergillus is known to produce poisons that could pose seven health risk to people, and even animals. Even small quantities can cause trouble. Sailaja suggested that chilies should be dried under the sun for a few hours before cooking or use in the pickles. “Keeping contaminated chillis in fridge will only complicate health issues,” added sailaja.

Calling for strict regulations to preventing aflatoxins on daily use spices like chilli, they warned that regular exposure to toxins produced by fungi may result in damage to liver. It may even trigger liver cancer. Children are at a higher risk than adults. 

© Times of India

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