Agricultural department starts screening milk for aflatoxin

Date of publication : 11/6/2007
Source : Agri News
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship started screening milk for aflatoxin on Nov. 1.

In a memo to dairy producers in northwest and southwest Iowa, ag secretary Bill Northey said that severe weather and drought in their areas have raised concerns about the possibility of aflatoxin in corn.

"Of particular concern is the corn and silage that is fed to dairy cows due to the possibility that the aflatoxin will pass through the cows and go into milk,"  Northey said.

In order to protect milk and dairy products from possible contamination, the ag department and the dairy industry started screening milk coming into Iowa dairy plants, receiving stations and transfer stations directly from the farm.

The milk is screened if it originates from a 14-county area of Iowa, said Northey. That includes milk from farms in Cass, Cherokee, Fremont, Ida, Lyon, Mills, Montgomery, O'Brien, Osceola, Page, Plymouth, Pottawattamie, Sioux and Woodbury counties.

Northey said screening will continue as long as circumstances merit it.

Dustin Vande Hoef, communications director with the ag department, said grain is being tested for aflatoxin statewide. He said no aflatoxin has been found in eastern Iowa grain. So far, screening hasn't found aflatoxin in milk.

"Of course, the best course of action is for producers to take steps to safeguard dairy feed from the risk of aflatoxin,"  Northey said.

Northey urged farmers to test dairy feed for aflatoxin that may originate from or near the drought areas. Local elevators may be able to help screen. If corn shows any evidence of mold, farmers should test it for aflatoxin, Northey said.

Farmers shouldn't blend any aflatoxin-contaminated corn with any other corn fed to dairy cows, Northey said. It's prohibited by federal law. Corn at 20 parts per billion or less can be fed to dairy cattle.

Farmers should contact veterinarians or dairy plants if they have any questions, Northey said.

If DDGs are fed to dairy animals, be sure aflatoxin levels are below 20 parts per billion, Northey said.
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