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Aflatoxins, mainly produced by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus are considered as serious food safety and human health issues due to their hepatotoxic effects. In the present study, the occurrence of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), the most potent human liver carcinogen, and prevalence of toxigenic isolates of Aspergillus spp. were assessed in 140 food commodities in Muscat markets, Oman, and the 95 quarantined imported food commodities. These samples consisted of rice, corn, peanut, red chilli powder, soybean, dried dates and tree nuts. AFB1 was analyzed using competitive ELISA/LC-MS and the aflatoxigenic fungi were detected using plating technique followed by molecular identification. No AFB1 was detected in 89 (63.6%) samples collected from local markets, while 44 (31.4%) samples contained 1-5 ppb and the remaining 7 (5%) samples (red chili powder) contained 6-10 ppb. None of the samples exceeded the maximum permissible limit of 10 ppb set for foods by Oman legislation. Of the 95 quarantined samples, only 17 (17.9%) samples were positive and contained AFB1 at concentrations ranging from 1-3.4 ppb. Four isolates of Aspergillus pp. were isolated from the collected samples and were identified as Aspergillus flavus (A14, A16 and A23) and A. chevalieri (A46) on the basis of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences of ribosomal DNA. Among them, A. flavus strain A14 alone produced AFB1 (7.6 ppb), while A16, A23, and A46 were non-toxigenic. This is the first detailed report on the occurrence of AFB1 in food commodities imported into Oman.
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