Data for Meta-analysis of Adverse Health Effects of Zearalenone (ZEN) in Cereal Growing Communities in Africa

Published: 22 December 2021| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/9bncfvb54g.2
Naa Kwarley-Aba Quartey,


The exposures of humans to mycotoxins resulting in adverse health outcomes as carcinogenicity, neurotoxicity and endocrine disreputability warrant their monitoring in food systems. This meta-analysis was based on zearalenone (ZEN), an abundant mycoestrogen in grains and cereal-based foods across African communities. Keywords; “adverse health", "cereals", "zearalenone", and "Africa" were used to screen published articles (Google Scholar, CrossRef, PubMed and Scopus databases) to obtain 1319 papers and filtered to obtain 36 relevant articles covering 53 studies. The concentrations of ZEN were statistically converted to their effect sizes and weighted averages, from which the prevalence was determined and presented as Forest plots. Probabilistic dietary exposures were run using ZEN concentrations, masses of cereal consumptions (from WHO/GEMs database), and consumers' bodyweight (from EFSA). The exposures were simulated at 105 iterations, benchmarked against PMTDI (0.25 μg/kg) and quantified as hazard quotient (HQ) to describe the risk of adverse reproductive health outcomes. The results presented concentrations of ZEN ranging from 0.90 to 1032 μg/kg and prevalence in rice and rice-based products (75%) relative to maize (22%) and sorghum (4%). The highest prevalence was recorded in Malawi (97%), while the lowest (3%) presented in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali, and Sudan. The frequently occurring (modal) and the top 5% consumers (95th percentile) of simulated ZEN exposures ranged respectively from 1.20×10-4 to 1.49×10-3, and 0.030 to 0.494 μg/kg(bw)-day. The highest frequently occurring (modal) exposure recorded was in infants (1.780 μg/kg(bw)-day) who, again, presented the highest top 5% (95th percentile) exposures at 0.436 μg/kg(bw)-day. This value exceeded the regulatory threshold and consequently presented risk (HQ>1) relative to other age groups (HQ<1). For the other age groups at the 95th percentile, exposures ranked as: adult females (0.037 μg/kg(bw)-day)>adult males (0.030 μg/kg(bw)-day) >elderly group (0.33 μg/kg(bw)-day). Though critical observation showed that the bodyweight of consumers influenced their exposures and risk, mitigation strategies to lower ZEN concentration must be encouraged to control risk among infants and women.



Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Department of Food Science and Technology


Dietary Exposure, Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis, Mycotoxin