Aflatoxin regulations and global pistachio trade: Insights from social network analysis

Travis R. Bui-Klimke, Hasan Guclu, Thomas W. Kensler, Jian Min Yuan, Felicia Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Aflatoxins, carcinogenic toxins produced by Aspergillus fungi, contaminate maize, peanuts, and tree nuts in many regions of the world. Pistachios are the main source of human dietary aflatoxins from tree nuts worldwide. Over 120 countries have regulations for maximum allowable aflatoxin levels in food commodities. We developed social network models to analyze the association between nations' aflatoxin regulations and global trade patterns of pistachios from 1996-2010. The main pistachio producing countries are Iran and the United States (US), which together contribute to nearly 75% of the total global pistachio market. Over this time period, during which many nations developed or changed their aflatoxin regulations in pistachios, global pistachio trade patterns changed; with the US increasingly exporting to countries with stricter aflatoxin standards. The US pistachio crop has had consistently lower levels of aflatoxin than the Iranian crop over this same time period. As similar trading patterns have also been documented in maize, public health may be affected if countries without aflatoxin regulations, or with more relaxed regulations, continually import crops with higher aflatoxin contamination. Unlike the previous studies on maize, this analysis includes a dynamic element, examining how trade patterns change over time with introduction or adjustment of aflatoxin regulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere92149
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 26 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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