Aflatoxins and peanuts


Peanuts, arachis hypogaea, Fabaceae family, order of legumes and commonly known as peanuts is among the favorite foods of parrots. Few of these resist them and many are deprived of them. Why…? Because on the Internet there are a lot of rumors and false information that have been conveyed about the dangers of aflatoxin contamination, and as it usually happens, a wind of panic has blown and… tin … tin peanuts for Coco! If all peanuts were poisonous, the government would have put its nose in them a long time ago, don’t you think?

The general idea is to be careful, as always, to only buy good quality peanuts for human consumption, to inspect them as usual with food and thus avoid problems.

What is aflatoxin?

Many agricultural products are prone to attack by a group of fungi that produce toxic metabolites called mycotoxins. Of these, aflatoxins are the most studied because of their harmful effects on the health of humans and animals, including birds. Two species of the fungus aspergillus flavus (predominant in Africa and Asia) and aspergillus parasiticus (mainly found in America), produce aflatoxins on various food products.

The effects of aflatoxin

Aflatoxin is a carcinogen that can cause various types of cancer, including cancer of the liver. It has a synergistic effect with the hepatitis B and C viruses, which increases the risk of catching this disease. It decreases the effectiveness of the immune system. In birds, poultry and / or livestock, it can lead to poor appetite, weight loss, reduced egg production and contamination of products such as milk, meats and other food products.

Factors contributing to peanut contamination


  • The presence of the fungus aspergillus flavus in the ground and in the air. This infection can appear at all stages, from pre-harvest to storage, causing the production of aflatoxin in the seeds.
  • A drought of more than 20 days at the end of the cycle.
  • Average temperatures of 28-31 ° C around the pods.
  • Growth cracks and mechanical damage to the pods.
  • The death of plants from other diseases as the pods mature.
  • Pod attacks by nematodes.

Post harvest

  • Harvest delay (late).
  • Mechanical damage to pods at harvest time.
  • Storage of the crop when pod / seed moisture is over 10% or under conditions of high humidity.
  • Attack of pods by various insects during storage.
  • Cleaning of pods after harvest should be done quickly.
  • Re-humidification of stored pods, due to factors such as soil moisture or roof runoff.

How to reduce the risk of contamination?

As peanuts are particularly vulnerable to contamination, manufacturers and health protection agencies ensure that peanuts unfit for consumption are detected by rigorous monitoring of storage conditions and the quality of all nuts and of all nut products (including peanut butter). Manufacturers have no interest in making their customers sick at all.

To keep your peanuts, you should store them in a cool, dry place, away from moisture, preferably in a paper or mesh bag. Since air circulation is important to prevent mold, do not store peanuts in a plastic bag or container. Roasted peanuts freeze. In the refrigerator, it can be kept for 9 months in shell or three months in shell. Raw peanuts deteriorate faster than roasted peanuts. Also, it is more difficult to keep and, fortunately, rarer on the market. The raw peanuts should be stored in the refrigerator. To make sure you are not consuming contaminated peanuts, discard old, stained, blackened, rancid, or moldy peanuts.

Nutritional information

Peanuts are 20 to 30% protein and also contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc and a supply of B complex vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B6, niacin and folic acid, this which makes it a truly exceptional food. The essential fatty acid content of peanut oil is very close to the optimum defined by nutritionists, especially with regard to monounsaturated fatty acids, predominant in peanut oil as in oil. olive. Their role in the prevention of atherosclerosis has been demonstrated.

Peanut oil
Saturated fatty acids 25% 21% (palmitic)
Monounsaturated fatty acids 50% 58% (oleic)
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 25% 21% (linoleic)

Peanut products

Peanuts are consumed in grain (after husking the pods), in the form of oil, in the form of butter (peanut), paste, flour, confectionery, etc. The by-products give rise to various uses: fodder for straw, fuel, composting, chipboard panels (empty shells), human or animal food for the cake.

If you refrain from offering peanuts to your parrot because you are genuinely afraid of aflatoxins, you should also ban from his diet:

  • The corn
  • Millet
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • The sunflower
  • Chillies
  • The almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Coconuts
  • Several fruits and vegetables
  • Meat
  • Dairy products

Because these are all foods excessively sensitive to aflatoxin contamination.

In view of the above, I think it would be a shame to deprive ourselves, as well as our parrots, of this delicious food that is peanuts. I have consumed it all my life and my birds have been consuming it for over twenty years and we have never felt the repercussions.

Ah! the Internet!!!!

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi- Arid Tropics Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India and Society for Transformation, Agriculture and Alternatives in Development (STAAD),
Plot No. 1181, Road No. 45, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad 500 033, India
CIRAD, Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development,

© Johanne Vaillancourt 2005


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here