Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dangerous Fare

Next to the news on supposed mercury-contaminated fish coming from the waters of Davao Gulf which I also posted here, another dumbfounding news that hogged the headlines is on the study of Dr. Anthony Sales, a mycotoxicologist from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) saying that our local rice, especially brown rice, contains high levels of aflatoxins. The results of his study will be shared during the Mindanao Conference on Emerging Issues on Food Safety in one of the high-end hotels in Davao City on March 6-7, 2008.

Is this gospel truth? The news is a big blow or maybe to the brown rice consumers – especially those who believe in the health benefits they can get from eating brown rice instead of well-milled rice. Health buffs would recommend the eating of brown rice. In fact, there is so much hype about this stuff providing supposed benefits to cancer patients. But the twist - aflatoxins are also carcinogenic or cancer-causing. Sun-Star Davao quoted the expert saying that even if there is only 0.5 ppb, it will accumulate overtime, especially that rice is a staple in the Filipino’s diet.

SSD quoted him: in the worst case scenario, a person who consumes much rice with aflatoxins will develop chronic toxicity, which may result in liver cancer, if ingested, and lung cancer if inhaled. So not only through eating that you can get aflatoxins. Now our consumers especially those who have the habit of poking their noses on a handful of milled rice before buying it in the market should be careful.

From the http://www.aflatoxin.info, I culled this information:

"Aflatoxins are potent toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, immunosuppressive agents, produced as secondary metabolites by the fungus Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus on variety of food products. Among 18 different types of aflatoxins identified, major members are aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2. Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is normally predominant in amount in cultures as well as in food products. Pure AFB1 is pale-white to yellow crystalline, odorless solid. Aflatoxins are soluble in methanol, chloroform, actone, acetonitrile. A. flavus typically produces AFB1 and AFB2, where as A. parasiticus produce AFG1 and AFG2 as well as AFB1 and AFB2. Four other aflatoxins M1, M2, B2A, G2A which may be produced in minor amounts were subsequently isolated from cultures of A. flavus and A. parasiticus. A number of closely related compounds namely aflatoxin GM1, parasiticol and aflatoxicol are also produced by A. flavus. Aflatoxin M1and M2 are major metabolites of aflatoxin B1 and B2 respectively, found in milk of animals that have consumed feed contaminated with aflatoxins."
Now look at this: We have for daily fare cooked rice with aflatoxins and fish contaminated with mercury. What we can do with this? There is a ray of hope though only when our farmers will improve the handling of rice production activities and sound agronomic practices, according to the expert. SSD further reported: Controlling levels of aflatoxin involves investment in knowledge on handling, as well as handling and storage equipment. Without political will, I doubt we can address this problem. More. I think we too have to study imported rice from, say, Thailand which also had aflatoxins contamination issue.

BTW. New friend in the blogosphere Pete Rahon posted my blog in his page. This gives me an opportunity to be read by his readers. Thanks Pete. Pete is an overseas Filipino worker who is also into serious blogging and vblogging. Aside from his kaleidoscopic blog Live Life! Love Life! (visit him at
http://peterahon.blogspot.com/), Pete tackles one of the most urgent and important issues confronting the Philippines – the health care situation with the on-going brain-drain. For instance, the flight of nurses and medical professionals has created a crisis in the health care side of the Filipino people and other issues relevant to our current situation. In fact, not so few cartoons I drew about brain-drain in the past. I will dump some of them here next time around. This reality stares us in the eye. And blame it to the continuing economic crisis the current situation offers to them down here. With Pete’s blog, you can look at the lighter side of this all as you travel with him into the journey of life and love.


louraine said...

Kuya duds! Thanx for the comments and appreciation of my blogs.. God bless