Shrimp: A Silent Source of Aflatoxin Poisoning

Discover the shocking truth about aflatoxin contamination in shrimp and how to protect yourself from this silent source of poisoning. Learn about prevention and management strategies to keep you and your family safe.

Aflatoxin Contamination in Shrimp Feed

What is Aflatoxin?

Aflatoxin poisoning in shrimp is a serious problem for farmers. Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus.

This toxin can be found on food crops such as corn, peanuts, shrimp and almonds. It is heat resistant and cannot be destroyed by cooking.

Causes of Aflatoxin Contamination in Shrimp Feed

Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin that can be harmful to humans and animals. It is produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, two types of fungi that commonly grow on food like shrimp.

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by certain types of fungi that can grow on food crops.

The fungus produces a toxin called aflatoxin, which can cause liver cancer and other health problems in humans. Aflatoxin is also toxic to shrimp and can cause death or deformities.

A recent study found that aflatoxin contamination was present in nearly 60% of the shrimp samples tested from around the world.

The highest levels of contamination were found in shrimp from Southeast Asia and South America.

Aflatoxin contamination in shrimp feed may cause economic losses. These results suggest that aflatoxin contamination in shrimp feed can have significant negative impacts on the industry.

Shrimp Species Contaminated with Aspergillus Species

Aspergillus species are a group of fungi that can produce aflatoxins, which are toxic compounds that can cause health problems in animals and humans.

Several species of Aspergillus can produce aflatoxins, including Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.

Marine shrimp are particularly susceptible to aflatoxicosis, a disease caused by the consumption of feed contaminated with aflatoxins.

Several species of marine shrimp are affected by aflatoxicosis, including Litopenaeus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp), Penaeus monodon (black tiger shrimp), and Penaeus japonicus (Japanese tiger shrimp).

The consumption of feed contaminated with aflatoxins can lead to a variety of health problems in shrimp, including liver damage, decreased growth, and increased susceptibility to disease.

It is important to note that other species of shrimp such as freshwater shrimp, can also be affected by aflatoxins, but the prevalence of this problem is more frequent in marine shrimp.

Symptoms & Histopathology of Aflatoxicosis in the Marine Shrimp

A study showed that aflatoxin exposure led to changes in the blood of whiteleg shrimp. These studies suggest that aflatoxin contamination can have serious negative effects on shrimp health and growth.

Histopathological changes in the shrimp include lesion in hepatopancreas and the mandibular organ.

Abnormal hepatopancreas and antennal gland tissues were observed.

-Degeneration and necrosis of hepatocytes, and an infiltration of inflammatory cells.

-In serological test different biochemical changes of the hemolymph were observed.

-In addition to the structural changes, aflatoxins can also disrupt the shrimp’s immune system, leading to an increased susceptibility to infections.

Biological Action of Mycotoxins | Aflatoxins Effects on Human

Aflatoxins, for example, are potent hepatotoxins and carcinogens that can cause liver damage and cancer.

They bind to and inhibit the activity of the enzymes responsible for detoxifying harmful substances in the liver, leading to the accumulation of toxic compounds and damage to the cells.

Ochratoxin A is a nephrotoxin and immunotoxin that can cause kidney damage and suppress the immune system.

It interferes with the normal functions of the kidney tubules, leading to a decrease in the reabsorption of water and electrolytes, and accumulation of toxic compounds in the kidney.

It also disrupts the normal functioning of the immune cells, leading to an increased susceptibility to infections.

Trichothecenes are potent immunotoxins that can cause damage to the skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. They inhibit the protein synthesis in cells, leading to the death of the cells.

Process of Detection Aflatoxin in Food

Aflatoxin can cause liver cancer, stunted growth, and death. It is important to detect aflatoxin production in food so that it can be removed from the supply chain.

There are several methods used to detect aflatoxins in food, including:


There are four methods for detecting aflatoxin: conventional isothermal amplification (LAMP), PCR, quantitative LAMP (qLAMP), and qPCR.

The first method is LAMP. With this method, the DNA of A. flavus or A. parasiticus can be detected using specific primers.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

PCR can be used to amplify the DNA of the fungus that produces aflatoxin. This makes it easier to detect aflatoxin in food samples. Another way to detect aflatoxin is with qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction).

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)

This is a rapid and sensitive method that uses antibodies to detect aflatoxins. It is commonly used to test food samples such as peanuts, corn, and other grains.

Thin-layer chromatography (TLC)

This method separates aflatoxins from other compounds in a sample and allows for visual detection. It is commonly used for screening food samples for aflatoxins.

High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

This method separates and detects aflatoxins by injecting a sample into a column and then measuring the eluted compounds.

It is a highly sensitive and specific method that is commonly used for quantifying aflatoxins in food samples.

Gas Chromatography-mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)

This method separates and detects aflatoxins by injecting a sample into a gas chromatograph and then measuring the eluted compounds using mass spectrometry.

It is a highly sensitive and specific method that is commonly used for quantifying aflatoxins in food samples.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

This method uses specific primers to amplify a DNA fragment of the aflatoxigenic fungi, it is a highly sensitive and specific method that is commonly used to detect the presence of aflatoxigenic fungi in food samples.

It is important to note that the choice of detection method will depend on the type of sample, the level of aflatoxins present, and the desired level of sensitivity and specificity.

How to Prevent Aflatoxin Contamination of Shrimp Feeds

There are several ways to prevent aflatoxin contamination of shrimp feed:

Proper Storage

It is important to store these foods in a cool, well-ventilated, dry place and to inspect them for any signs of fungus or mold. If you do find any fungus or mold, discard the food immediately.

Ingredient Selection

Use high-quality ingredients that have been tested for aflatoxins. Avoid using ingredients that have been stored for long periods or that have visible mold growth.

Consumers can also buy products that have been tested and certified as being free of aflatoxin.

Good Manufacturing Practices

Implement good manufacturing practices (GMPs) throughout the feed production process to prevent cross-contamination with aflatoxins.

This includes regularly cleaning and sanitizing equipment and facilities, and conducting regular testing of feed ingredients and finished feed.

Food manufacturers should test for aflatoxin contamination and reject any products that are positive for the toxin.

Feed Management

Proper feed management during the growing period is also important. This includes monitoring feed intake, providing adequate feed, and avoiding overfeeding, which can lead to mold growth.

The fungus that produces aflatoxin cannot grow at high temperatures, so cooking the food will kill it.

Feed Quality Testing

Regular testing of feed ingredients and finished feed for aflatoxins can help detect and prevent contamination.

It is important to note that preventing aflatoxin contamination is a complex and multifaceted task that requires a combination of proper storage, ingredient selection, GMPs, feed management, and feed quality testing.

How to Remove Aflatoxin from Contaminated Shrimp Food Items

Removing aflatoxins from contaminated shrimp feed can be challenging, but there are a few methods that can be used to reduce the levels of these toxins:

Heat Treatment

Cooking or heat-treating shrimp feed at high temperatures can help to kill the mold and reduce the levels of aflatoxins.

Physical Removal

Sieving or sifting contaminated feed to remove visible mold or moldy pieces can also reduce the levels of aflatoxins.

Aflatoxin Binders

Using certain binders such as clay-based products, can be added to feed to reduce the bioavailability of aflatoxins and prevent them from causing harm.

Microbial Degradation

Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi can be used to degrade aflatoxins in feed. This can be done by adding these microorganisms to feed or by inoculating feed with aflatoxin-degrading strains.

Chemical Methods

There are some chemical methods such as adsorption, oxidation, and reduction, that can be used to remove aflatoxins. However, it is important to note that these methods are not widely used, and have some limitations.

It is important to note that these methods may not entirely remove the aflatoxins, and are not recommended as a sole means of treatment but they can be used as a complementary method to lower the aflatoxin levels.

It’s important to source feed ingredients that have been tested for aflatoxins, implement good manufacturing practices throughout the feed production process, and regularly test feed ingredients and finished feed to detect and prevent contamination.

Recommended Concentration of Aflatoxin

There are rules and regulations for aflatoxin levels in food. The levels of aflatoxins allowed in food vary depending on the type of food, and are set by different regulatory agencies around the world.

In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established action levels for aflatoxins in various foods, such as:

  • 20 ppb for whole peanuts
  • 20 ppb for peanut butter
  • 200 ppb for corn and corn products
  • 100 ppb for tree nuts
  • 20 ppb for milk

In the European Union, the European Commission has established maximum levels for aflatoxins in certain foods:

  • 4 ppb for nuts and dried fruits
  • 4 ppb for cereals, cereal-based products, and other food of plant origin
  • 2 ppb for infant foods
  • 2 ppb for food intended for particular nutritional uses
  • 0.5 ppb for total aflatoxins in milk and milk-based products

It is important to note that these regulations may vary by country, and some countries may not have specific regulations for aflatoxins in food.

It is also important to note that even if a food product is within the regulations, it does not mean it is completely free of aflatoxins, so it’s important to be aware of the risk of contamination and take measures to reduce it.


Can aflatoxin be destroyed by cooking?

Aflatoxins are heat-stable, meaning that they are not easily destroyed by cooking. While heat treatment can help to kill the mold and reduce the levels of aflatoxins, it may not entirely eliminate them.

The level of destruction of aflatoxins by heat treatment depends on the temperature, duration of heating, and the type of aflatoxins.

For example, Aflatoxin B1, the most common and toxic type of aflatoxins, has been found to be relatively heat-stable and can withstand temperatures up to 150-200°C.

Studies have shown that heating contaminated food for 30 minutes at 100°C can reduce aflatoxin levels by 50-60%. However, higher temperatures and longer heating times may be required to achieve greater reductions.

What foods are most affected by aflatoxins?

These toxins can contaminate a variety of foods and can cause serious health problems in humans and animals.

Aflatoxins are particularly dangerous because they can resist heating and other forms of processing, and they can remain in food for long periods of time. So Which food contains aflatoxin?

Some of the foods that are most affected by aflatoxins include peanuts, corn, cottonseed, and tree nuts. Aflatoxin contamination is also a problem for dairy products, meat, and eggs.

What does aflatoxin taste like?

Aflatoxin is a type of toxin that is produced by the Aspergillus fungus. Aflatoxin is colorless, odorless, and invisible. Aflatoxin can be found in food items such as grains, nuts, and spices.

How common is aflatoxin?

It is one of the most potent toxins on Earth. Aflatoxin is a common contaminant of food crops. It is found in many countries around the world.

The level of aflatoxin in food varies from country to country. In some countries, it is not a problem because the government regulates the level of aflatoxin in food.

Does rice have aflatoxin?

Rice is a cereal crop that is not typically considered a host for the fungi that produce aflatoxins. However, rice can become contaminated with aflatoxins if it is grown in fields that are contaminated with aflatoxigenic mold, or if it is stored in conditions that are conducive to mold growth.

Aflatoxins can be found in rice as a result of contamination during growth or storage, as aflatoxigenic molds can grow on rice in the field or during storage if the conditions are favourable. For example, if the rice is stored in high humidity and warm temperatures, mold can grow and produce aflatoxins.

Do almonds contain aflatoxin?

Almonds, like other tree nuts, can be susceptible to aflatoxin contamination, especially if they are grown in regions with a history of aflatoxin contamination or if they are stored in conditions that are conducive to mold growth.

Aflatoxigenic molds can grow on almonds if they are exposed to high humidity and warm temperatures, and produce aflatoxins.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established an action level of 20 ppb for aflatoxins in tree nuts, including almonds. The FDA also has a monitoring program for aflatoxins in almonds and other tree nuts.

What do mycotoxins do to your body?

Mycotoxins can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The toxins can also cause liver damage, kidney damage, and death.

They can also affect the immune system and cause neurological problems. Mycotoxins are particularly dangerous to pregnant women and young children, as they can cause birth defects and developmental problems.

How do you remove aflatoxin from your body?

There is currently no specific treatment or detoxification procedure for removing aflatoxins from the body. The best way to remove aflatoxins from your body is to avoid exposure to them in the first place.

The body has natural detoxification processes that help to remove toxins, including aflatoxins. The liver, for example, is responsible for detoxifying harmful substances, and it can help to remove aflatoxins from the body. However, exposure to high levels of aflatoxins can overwhelm the liver’s ability to detoxify them, leading to toxic effects.

A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also help to support the body’s natural detoxification processes. Consuming foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, leafy greens, and nuts, can help to protect cells from damage caused by toxins.