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April 6, 1963


JAMA. 1963;184(1):57. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700140113021

In 1960 a new disease killed more than 100,000 turkeys in the south and east of England. In the unimaginative way of science, it was called turkey "X" disease; it was also quickly associated with diet. Subsequently, peanut meal was incriminated as the offending diet component. Next, the toxic fraction was identified as the product of a fungus, Aspergillus flavus. The toxin, labeled "aflatoxin" (probable formula C17H12O6 or C17H12O7 —structure not yet established), grows rapidly in mature peanuts which have been harvested and stored under warm, humid conditions. The contaminated peanuts were obtained from Brazil, Kenya, Uganda, and India, but the fungus is ubiquitous, since the toxin has been found not only in peanuts, but in grain products as well (soy bean, corn, and others) from other parts of the world.

To eliminate the problem, the British Government has recommended

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