PESAR: Estimating mycotoxin exposure and increasing food security in Guatemala

Guatemala cooperativemycotoxins on corn

Mycotoxins are toxic fungal metabolites that contaminate about a quarter of the world’s food and can cause serious health outcomes such as cancer, stunting and wasting. Mycotoxin contamination is a significant problem in low- and middle-income countries, which frequently have hot, humid climates that promote mycotoxin growth. Previous research has demonstrated potentially high exposure to mycotoxins in Guatemala. Mishandling of crops such as maize during pre- and post-harvest has been associated with mycotoxin contamination.

PESAR will conduct a cross-sectional survey of maize-handling practices and estimate the prevalence of mycotoxins in maize, tortillas, and biological samples in Guatemala. This informaiton will be used to determine the maize-handling practices in Guatemala that are potential risk factors for mycotoxin exposure.

The overarching goal of PESAR is to estimate mycotoxin exposure in Guatemala to inform the development and implementation of supply chain management practices that mitigate mycotoxin production, reduce food waste and economic loss, and promote food security. 

OSU Project Team: Barbara Kowalcyk (co-PI), Ariel Garsow

Collaborators: Olga Torres (co-PI) and Jorge Matute (CIENSA), Kinnon Scott (World Bank)

Funding: This project is supported by the Government of Guatemala through Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, the World Bank, Labritorio Diagnóstico Molecular, an Ohio State Connect and Collaborate grant, and OSU’s Department of Food Science and Technology