Senior Lecturer (Food Microbiology, Mycology & Mycotoxicology), Babcock University, Nigeria
My research focuses on food safety, particularly on mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites from fungi that contaminate a variety of crops and their products, and could constitute health risks to humans and animals, as well as pose economic threats because of strict legislations. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), mycotoxin contamination of foods is common and is a complex challenge due to a cocktail of factors ranging from climatic, poor agricultural and handling practices, low awareness and education on the problem to sparse human and infrastructural capacity to tackle the problem and almost non-existent or non-enforced regulations. Due to the complexity of the mycotoxin problem, multiple mycotoxin exposures are almost inevitable since most foods contain more than one mycotoxin. Intensifying the problem in the SSA region is the paucity of data on multiple mycotoxin exposure using body fluids (e.g. blood, breast milk and urine) in Africa - such data give a clearer picture of the extent of the mycotoxin problem, thus laying the foundation for mitigation options. My research therefore focuses on quantifying mycotoxin exposures in various human populations in Nigeria and some other countries (e.g. Cameroon and Namibia) in SSA. Presently, I am working on understanding the multiple mycotoxin exposure and health risk patterns in infants and young children (under fives) in the aforementioned countries. Infants and young children are the most vulnerable to the toxic effects of mycotoxins and the effects from individual mycotoxin exposures could manifest as growth retardation (stunting and wasting), immune suppression, modulation of intestinal functions to prevent absorption of nutrient and micronutrients, and in cases of high exposure deaths could result. I am scheduled to give a 20 minutes talk, “Mycotoxin exposure patterns in infants and young children in sub-Saharan Africa”, at the 10th Conference of the World Mycotoxin Forum in Amsterdam by March 2018. At this meeting, I will present data on our preliminary studies with some novelty in the mycotoxin biomarker field of research.