Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will require aflatoxin screening and testing of milk received in Iowa beginning Aug. 31, 2012 and continuing indefinitely.
The order requires milk processors to screen all Grade A and Grade B farm bulk milk pickup tankers and farm can milk loads for aflatoxin on a weekly basis.
Aflatoxin has become a concern this year for many corn producers, as it can be produced from Aspergillus flavus ear rot due to hot, dry conditions.
Iowa State Plant Pathologist Alison Robertson says there have been several reports of aflatoxin in Iowa, but the problem does not appear widespread. She says the best plan is to call your insurance agent if Aspergillus ear rot is detected, and harvest early.
Northey explains that with harvest, comes screening.
"We were well aware that aflatoxin could be an issue this year due to the historic drought conditions," Northey said. "Now that farmers are starting to harvest silage, and corn in some cases, it is appropriate to begin this screening process to make sure our milk supply remains safe."
The Department is also instituting a state-wide corn sampling program.
The FDA has established guidelines for acceptable aflatoxin levels in corn based on its intended use. 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 or for immature livestock of others species. 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 greater than 100 lbs. in weight and corn with 300 ppb or less can be used in finishing beef cattle.
On August 15, 2012 the Department submitted a request to FDA to allow corn containing more than 20 ppb of aflatoxin to be blended with non-aflatoxin containing corn for animal feed. The FDA has granted a similar request in previous years when aflatoxin has been present in Iowa.