A preliminary study of multi-mycotoxins contamination in some selected South Africa medicinal plants
The use of medicinal plants in folklore remedies and as sources of raw materials for pharmaceutical industries is extensively increasing. The problem surrounding the use of such plants rests with the manner in which such plants like other agricultural commodities are contaminated with fungi, some of which are toxigenic, with possible production of mycotoxins in such plants. This study was aimed at investigating the degree of mycotoxin contamination of 36 South African medicinal plants. A multi-mycotoxin extraction method was followed and mycotoxins so extracted were quantified by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). High performance liquid chromatographic data revealed the presence of aflatoxins (AFs), ochratoxin A (OTA) and zearalenone (ZEA) 0.03 to 31.46 µg/kg, 0.2 to 10.09 µg/kg and 0.1 to 23.35 µg/kg, respectively. Most of the plants were found to be contaminated with one or two mycotoxins tested for. The use of such contaminated medicinal plants may lead to high risk of mycotoxins consumption which might result to adverse human health problems and therefore represents a special hazard. In view of this, it is crucial to establish and implement fungal and mycotoxin control programmes so as to limit quality loss and exposure of consumers of these products to these hazardous substances that could be accompanied by ill-health.