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Food Safety Focus (175th Issue, February 2021) – Food Incident Highlight

Guidance on Preventing and Reducing Aflatoxin Contamination in Peanuts

Peanut is a produce susceptible to the invasion of aflatoxin-producing moulds. Aflatoxins could increase the risk of liver cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in Hong Kong. The risk of liver cancer in individuals exposed to both aflatoxins and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is reported to be about 30 times higher than that in non-HBV infected individuals. The Centre for Food Safety has issued a guidance to assist the trade to reduce the risk of aflatoxin contamination in peanuts.

Control measures can be taken when receiving, sorting and storing peanuts. Loose-shelled or damaged kernels should be examined for possible presence of mould upon receiving or purchase. Mouldy, discoloured or rancid kernels should be sorted out if spotted. When storing peanuts, it is important to maintain a dry and cool environment. Peanuts that have been spilled are vulnerable to contamination and should not be used for edible products.