Food additives, like aflatoxin, occur naturally in many food products. The chemical byproduct comes from a few different types of fungi that grow on crops that are used in the production of food items. Many food scientists rate aflatoxin as one of the most carcinogenic man made or natural entities. Its ability to go unnoticed even after testing makes the dangerous chemical one of the most potentially harmful food preservatives.
Aflatoxin acts as mycotoxins, also known as fungus. Although a naturally occurring chemical, these bacteria-derived substances have the ability to completely disrupt your internal functions. The fungi that produce aflatoxin include aspergillus parasiticus and flavus. Both of these grow on a wide variety of crops including rice, wheat, maize, black pepper, ginger, almonds, pistachios and coconuts.
In other cases, aflatoxin is derived from animal sources that are frequently consumed. These food products include milk from cows, and in rare cases the meat from any animal that has consumed stock feed that contains the chemical.
Aflatoxin and Your Body
After consuming foods that contain high amounts of aflatoxin, your liver metabolizes the chemical into a harmful and reactive ether. Initially, this substance has the ability to kill cells in the liver and the surrounding areas.
Eventually, after a large number of cells die off in the liver, a disease called cirrhosis often occurs. The aflatoxin fungus kills cells. Then when the liver tries to repair itself, a large number of nodules and scar tissue gets produced. In short, this process hinders the liver function and eventually causes a complete liver failure.
This food additive has also shown a direct correlation with the formation of cancerous material in the liver.
Food Additive Warnings
No human or animal species has grown an immunity to aflatoxin. However, humans do have a much higher resistance to the negative effects that occur as a result of consuming the chemical.
Small children suffer the greatest risk of seeing negative effects from consuming aflatoxin. The food additive has the ability to mutate DNA and genes that help to produce healthy liver cells. When these important human building blocks become altered or damaged, the individual organs, like the liver, suffer tremendously.
Many foods contain traces of aflatoxin. Adults have a higher resistance than children and often see little to no effect from consuming small amounts of the product. The US Food and Drug Administration has developed a set of guidelines and regulatory acts that help keep foods aflatoxin free, or keep their quantities limited.
The main regulatory guide bases its ratings off of an action level. This system forces food growers and developers to limit the quantities of aflatoxin that is allowed in their food. The following list will give you a better idea of what foods contain aflatoxin:
- Corn and peanuts that are used in animal feed
- Brazil nuts