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Effect of storage conditions on quality and aflatoxin contamination of peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.)
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Peanuts are prone to various types of deterioration during storage which renders them unsuitable for consumption and trade resulting in large economic losses. Peanut kernels of Homabay Local, Valencia Red, ICGV-SM 12991 and ICGV-SM 99568 varieties were stored for six months in jute, polypropylene and polyethylene bags to assess the effect of the storage bags, temperature and relative humidity (R.H.) on quality and aflatoxin contamination. Moisture content (M.C.), physical damage, rancidity and aflatoxin levels were determined before storage and after every 30 days during storage. Moisture content of the peanuts varied significantly (p ≤ 0.05) from 3.3 to 6.9% with samples stored in different bag types recording mean values of: 5.1% - polypropylene, 5.2% - polyethylene, and 5.3% - jute. Physical damage – which ranged from 0.1 to 9.8% - was significantly influenced by storage temperature and R.H., and the type of storage bag. Rancidity ranged from 0.8 to 5.3 and increased with storage duration from a mean of 1.5 before storage to a peak of 2.5 after 5 months of storage. There was a significant variation in the total aflatoxin levels ranging from 0 – 47.8 μg/kg, where peanuts stored in polyethylene bags were 7.3 and 13.4% more contaminated than samples stored in polypropylene and jute bags, respectively. Dried peanuts should be packaged in a container that will impede critical increases in M.C. and aflatoxin contamination and stored in a well-ventilated dry room with adequate air circulation.