A new study in the United States reveals that there is a greater incidence of aflatoxin contamination in almonds originating from Southern California, as compared to almonds coming from Northern or Central California. Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by mold that grows in seeds, legumes and nuts. In high dosages it is believed to lead to liver damage and cancer.

Authors of the Food Control journal have written that although aflatoxin contamination may be expected every year, these aflatoxin contaminations in Southern California almonds occurred even during pre-harvest. Because of the result of the study, the authors have suggested for a continuance in the surveillance of aflatoxins and their growth in California almonds. The incidence of aflatoxin occurrence in nuts may be reduced with the implementation of good agriculture processes, an approach which has been encouraged by California’s Board of Almond.

During the study, 288 samples of almonds were collected and the sources of these almond samples are from different California commercial orchards. Out of the nine orchards sampled, three orchards have been found to be positive for aflatoxin contamination. The three orchards had 20 samples (6.9%) that were contaminated by aflatoxins. Results of this recent study has prompted suggestions of further research and investigation regarding aflatoxin contamination in almonds.

Aflatoxins have been widely documented as a contaminant in agricultural products around the globe. Commodities contaminated by aflatoxins include peanuts, cottonseed, spices, almonds, walnuts, maize, pistachios, figs and walnuts. These contaminants are considered as one of the most cancer-causing substances and are also known to be toxic in humans. Exposure to high levels of aflatoxin leads to hepatic necrosis (acute) and even liver cancer.

However, on a positive note, humans have a very high tolerance for aflatoxins and thus rarely suffer from aflatoxicosis.