Albania is among few countries in the world with the highest limit level of aflatoxin allowed in food products. Announced, but not taken seriously. And is not the first time that the Albanian authorities remain indifferent to food risks, coming from import. It’s the case of peanuts, a product widely consumed by Albanians. A month ago, AgroWeb.org announced that Croatian Food Quality Control authorities has ordered the immediate removal from its markets for an unreported quantity of Chinese peanuts, due to high levels of aflatoxin. While on 19 of January, it was UK that blocked a shipment of peanuts for the same reason.
AgroWeb.org requested an official statement from Albanian National Food Authority for the detailed data results of the test done during December 2016, to the imported peanuts from China to Albania.
The official response that AgroWeb.org received from National Food Authority, shows that the limit level of aflatoxin in Albanians 15 microgram per kg as the test done to the Chinese peanuts in Albanian market was less than 15 micrograms per kilogram, but does not specify which precisely this level was. The situation becomes more shocking when Croatia has blocked peanuts with the total value of aflatoxin 9.2 micrograms per kilogram and UK didn’t allowed even to the level of 8 micrograms per kilogram. The allowed level of aflatoxin in Europe ranges from 4 micrograms per kilogram to 15 micrograms per kilogram, making Albania the highest level in the region and one of only eight countries worldwide that have permitted level of aflatoxin 15 micrograms per kilogram.
The aflatoxin with the highest level of toxins is of type B1, the limit of which in Albania is 8.0 micrograms per kilogram, but in the response received by the FCA, this value is only mentioned as the maximum allowed level, but it’s not given the amount of the substance found in the analysis of peanut. Croatia had blocked peanuts with 7.2 micrograms per kilogram level of B1 aflatoxin while Britain with 6.6 micrograms per kilogram.
Maize, peanuts, pistachios, black pepper, dried fruit and figs are all known to be high-risk foods for aflatoxin contamination, but the toxins have also been detected in many other commodities. At high enough exposure levels, aflatoxins can cause acute toxicity, and potentially death, in animals, birds and fish, as well as in humans. The liver is the principal organ affected, but high levels of aflatoxin have also been found in the lungs, kidneys, brains and hearts of individuals dying of acute aflatoxicosis.
Human liver cancer is quite common in parts of the world where aflatoxin contamination of food is likely and there may be a link, although this remains unproven. Acute human aflatoxicosis is rare, especially in developed countries, where contamination levels in food and monitored and controlled.
Facing such a situation, Albanian authorities must be determined whether Albania will continue to be among eight countries where the level of aflatoxin is allowed at 15 µg/kg or will follow the path of our neighbors such as Croatia which blocks imported food with the amount of aflatoxin at the level of 9.2 micrograms per kilogram.