Spectral Analysis to Remove Mycotoxin Contaminated Grain

Small-scale kernel sorting to remove mycotoxin-contaminated maize from the food supply 


This project is part of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss (PHLIL) Phase 2 led by Kansas State University. PHLIL is a strategic, applied research and education program aimed at improving global food security by reducing post-harvest losses in stored product cropsADMI is a subawardee in the PHLIL project and works with Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), University of Illinois-based AgReach, and Assistant Professor Matt Stasiewicz to achieve objectives within the PHLIL project. 

Project Information

University of Illinois Assistant Professor Matt Stasiewicz is conducting research to test low-cost sorting technologies to separate maize kernels with fungal contamination from those without. Through previous proof-of-concept work in Kenya, Stasiewicz’s research has shown that an average of 80% of aflatoxins and fumonisin in heavily contaminated bulk maize by single-kernel sorting with a relatively inexpensive optical sorter. Removing contaminated kernels can reduce postharvest losses, both in terms of the numbers of kernels that are safe to consume and the nutrition content of the kernels that remain.  

The project goal is to develop a low-cost, single-kernel sorter to remove mycotoxin-contaminated maizeRuben Chavez, a University of Illinois doctoral student and PHL Scholar, is working with Stasiewicz.

Project Progress

Some Ghanaian poultry farms have a cleaning system for corn, so Stasiewicz will also examine if existing grain cleaning systemcan assist in removing mycotoxin from maize.  

Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, research partners at Kwame Nkurumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)Ghana, collected and shipped grain samples to the University of Illinois.  



Journal articles 

  • Ruben A. Chavez, George Opit, Bismark Opoku, and Matthew J. Stasiewicz. 2023. “Spectral kernel sorting based on high-risk visual features associated with mycotoxin contamination reduces aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination in maize from Ghana.” Food Control, vol. 151, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2023.109788
  • Ruben A. Chavez, Xianbin Cheng, Tim J. Herrman, Matthew J. Stasiewicz. “Single kernel aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination distribution and spectral classification in commercial corn.” Food Control, vol. 131, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2021.108393
  • Cheng, Xianbin, Ruben A. Chavez, and Matthew J. Stasiewicz. “When to Use One-Dimensional, Two-Dimensional, and Shifted Transversal Design Pooling in Mycotoxin Screening.” PLOS ONE, vol. 15, no. 8, Aug. 2020, p. e0236668. Crossrefdoi:10.1371/journal.pone.0236668
  • Chavez, Ruben A., Xianbin Cheng, and Matthew J. Stasiewicz. “A Review of the Methodology of Analyzing Aflatoxin and Fumonisin in Single Corn Kernels and the Potential Impacts of These Methods on Food Security.” Foods 9.3 (2020): 297. Crossref. Webhttp://dx.doi.org/10.3390/foods9030297