The challenge of global aflatoxins legislation with a focus on peanuts and peanut products: a systematic review

Julie P. Meneely*, Oluwatobi Kolawole, Simon A. Haughey, Sarah J. Miller, Rudolf Krska, Christopher T. Elliott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
83 Downloads (Pure)


Globally, of all mycotoxins, aflatoxins present a significant threat to human and animal health and has resulted in the introduction of strict food regulatory limits to protect public health. A systematic review, was performed to elucidate the rationale applied in establishing aflatoxin standards and evaluate the economic impacts of these. The focus was peanuts, a principal trading commodity susceptible to aflatoxin contamination. Results revealed that although regulations are established in many countries, there is huge disparity in the maximum limits applied due to different methodologies used when considering exposure assessment. Moreover, in countries most affected by aflatoxin contamination in peanuts, few, if any standards exist. In the case of risk assessments, knowledge gaps identified include the impact of climate change on peanut aflatoxin contamination, the role of aflatoxins in child stunting, Kwashiorkor and immunomodulation and a lack of occurrence and exposure data in many developing countries from contaminated peanuts. Few quantitative studies evaluating the impact of aflatoxin regulations on trade exist and evidence is lacking in terms of what happens to exports that do not meet regulatory requirements. Evidence does suggest a lack of knowledge of the extent of the aflatoxin problem, associated health risks and mitigation strategies in developing countries. A hugely important factor that needs to be highlighted is that while there is a fundamental right for sufficient, safe, nutritious food, in many cases in low-income and lower middle-income countries there exists an incredibly difficult and complex trade-off between food security and food safety.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalExposure and Health
Early online date03 Aug 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 03 Aug 2022


  • Aflatoxins
  • Economic impact
  • Legislation
  • MLs
  • Peanuts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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