Aflatoxin detection

Aflatoxin is the generic name for several mycotoxins produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus that can grow on a wide range of nuts (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc.) as well as on grains and dried fruit such as figs, raisins, etc. Aflatoxin has been shown to be one of the most carcinogenic substances known to man so strict regulations are applied to the commerce in products that could be contaminated with the mycotoxin. Up until now detection of aflatoxin has been extremely difficult and involved using complicated sampling systems with each sample being examined with a short wavelength UV light under which the fungus fluoresced. The fluorescence response was however very weak and correlated only poorly to the actual amount of fungal contamination. A new sorter, using multiple laser optics, has now been developed by the Belgian-based company Best; the new system enables detection and sorting of aflatoxins at a normal processing flow. The new sorter is based on a set of free-fall laser sorters, which combine structural measurements with full spectrum RGB colour sorting. The system can be configured with up to twelve laser sensors so providing the highest detection resolution on the market. Extensive tests of the new systems have been carried out under real production conditions (several tons of nuts per hour) and the results compared with the standard laborious sampling/testing system. It was found that the new system accurately rejected contaminated products and reduced final aflatoxin levels far below the accepted 5ppb level, without erroneously rejecting uncontaminated product.


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