Iowa Stops Testing Milk for Poisonous Fungus

By George C. Ford, Reporter

Jim Mitchell selects a gallon of milk at a Milwaukee grocery store on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. While the nation inches toward the economic fiscal cliff, a lesser-known dairy cliff also looms that could send milk prices as high as $6 per gallon if Congress doesn't act in time. (AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde)

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By Adam Carros

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will no longer require screening and testing of milk for aflatoxin.

The testing requirement began on Aug. 31 due to the drought conditions in Iowa last summer, which can produce aflatoxin in corn. Aflatoxin is potentially fatal to livestock and is considered cancer-causing to animals and humans.

During the six months when testing was required, the Agriculture Department saw four loads of milk test positive for aflatoxin, and all four were destroyed. The last load to test positive was on Nov. 7.

Approximately 88.46 million gallons of milk were tested since the last load to test positive for aflatoxin. The testing requirement ended on Friday.

The Agriculture Department also conducted a statewide corn sampling program last fall to determine the prevalence of aflatoxin. The agency also has received a waiver from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that allows corn containing more than 20 parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin to be blended with non-aflatoxin containing corn for animal feed for non-dairy animals.

The FDA’s blending waiver is in place until June 1, 2013.

Corn containing aflatoxin in concentrations of greater than 20 ppb cannot be used for human consumption and cannot be used for feed for dairy animals. Corn containing aflatoxin at 100 ppb or less can be used in breeding cattle and swine and mature poultry.

Corn with 200 ppb or less can be used with finishing swine weighing greater than 100 pounds, and corn with 300 ppb or less can be used in finishing beef cattle.

More information about aflatoxin in corn can be found on the ISU Extension and Outreach website at www.extension.iastate.edu/topic/recovering-disasters.

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