Large doses of aflatoxins lead to acute poisoning (aflatoxicosis) that can be life threatening, usually through damage to the liver.
Aflatoxin B1 is an aflatoxin produced by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. It is a very potent carcinogen. This carcinogenic potency varies across species with some, such as rats and monkeys, seemingly much more susceptible than others. Aflatoxin B1 is a common contaminant in a variety of foods including peanuts, cottonseed meal, corn, and other grains; as well as animal feeds. Aflatoxin B1 is considered the most toxic aflatoxin and it is highly implicated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in humans. In animals, aflatoxin B1 has also been shown to be mutagenic, teratogenic, and to cause immunosuppression. Several sampling and analytical methods including thin-layer chromatography (TLC), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), mass spectrometry, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), among others, have been used to test for aflatoxin B1 contamination in foods. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the worldwide maximum tolerated levels of aflatoxin B1 was reported to be in the range of 1–20 μg/kg in food, and 5–50 μg/kg in dietary cattle feed in 2003.