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Aflatoxin corn allowed in U.S. livestock feed

Aflatoxin contamination prompted a series of U.S. 
pet food and livestock feed recalls last December

Reuters / The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will allow grain handlers in Iowa and Illinois to blend corn containing aflatoxin, a naturally occurring toxic substance, with other grain to make animal feed.

Aflatoxin is the byproduct of a corn mold that tends to spread in drought years. Following the worst drought in the Corn Belt in half a century, the grain sector has been on high alert for the substance which can cause liver disease and is considered carcinogenic.

Human exposure to high amounts of aflatoxin is rare. But aflatoxin contamination prompted a series of U.S. pet food and livestock food recalls last December.

The FDA generally forbids grain handlers from mixing corn containing aflatoxin with “clean” grain, but it has relaxed this policy during years of widespread aflatoxin problems upon the request of state officials.

Following FDA approval, grain handlers who want to blend corn contaminated with aflatoxin must agree to comply with several provisions, including labeling the blended grain.

Under FDA guidelines, certain types of animal feed can contain an aflatoxin concentration of up to 300 parts per billion (ppb). Human foods must contain less than 20 ppb, while the threshold for milk is even lower at 0.5 ppb.

Last month, Iowa began requiring the state’s dairy processors to test all milk received in the state for aflatoxin.

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