FIRST PORTABLE LOW-COST DEVICE DEVELOPED FOR RAPID DETECTION OF AFLATOXINS

Hyderabad, India │ Lilongwe, Malawi (26 July 2016) ― A new technology that detects aflatoxins on location, can save lives and open export markets for African and Asian countries. The rapid test kit device is also affordable at under US$ 2. This exciting advancement combined with a mobile extraction kit that will be ready in two months, will be the first portable cost-effective way for farmers and others to detect aflatoxins instantly.

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With funding from the McKnight Foundation and in collaboration with partners including the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi-NASFAM, Farmers Union Malawi (FUM), Kamuzu Central Hospital and Nkhoma Hospital, Malawi, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) developed the rapid test kit for aflatoxins. It is a simple non-laboratory based kit that can be used directly by non-technical people such as farmers, agro-dealers and food processors. Currently, the test can be applied to detect aflatoxin in groundnuts.

The test kit launched officially today by Dr Wilkson Makumba, Director, Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), Lilongwe at ICRISAT-Malawi, requires limited technical knowledge or training and can be done on location. For example it can be used by traders to check for contamination before concluding a sale. The rapid detection is useful for public health authorities to help identify suspected samples in cases of an outbreak of aflatoxin poisoning.

The compact portable device is based on the lateral flow immunoassay test (popularly known as the strip test like that used to detect glucose in human blood). If aflatoxin is present in the sample, then one pink line appears on the strip, whereas if the sample doesn’t have any aflatoxin, two pink lines will appear.

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“The device will contribute to manage and reduce the entry of aflatoxins in the food value chains, improve diagnosis for local and export trade and support the food processing industry to maintain low exposure levels in food products in our local markets as well as for export markets,” said Dr Anitha Seetha, Scientist, ICRISAT, Malawi.

ICRISAT

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