Deadly aflatoxin contaminated corn in two states have been given the ok by federal authorities to be mixed with non-contaminated corn and fed to animals, another state has applied for approval.  Here’s the risks ignored by federal authorities – risks to both humans and animals. (Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska)

From the FDA website “Aflatoxins are toxic by-products of mold growth on certain agricultural commodities.  Since their discovery in the early 1960’s, aflatoxins have been shown to be carcinogenic to laboratory test animals.”

Numerous pet food recalls in the past have been due to high aflatoxin levels.  The deadliest in 2005 by Diamond Pet Food – the most recent less than a year ago by Cargill Animal Nutrition.

FDA allows human food to contain less than 20 parts per billion (ppb) aflatoxin, however some animal foods are allowed to contain up to 300 ppb (in corn for feedlot beef cattle).  Pet foods must contain less than 20 ppb.

It appears that the FDA/USDA are allowing the aflatoxin contaminated grains to be fed to livestock only, with the exception of dairy animals (dairy cows fed aflatoxin contaminated grains have been linked to high levels of aflatoxin in the milk – posing a risk to human health).  However there is no guarantee to this; Nebraska testing of corn showed almost 70 percent of 2,000 samples tested positive for aflatoxins.  With the high rate of infected corn this year, any pet product (or human product) that contains corn could be of risk.

The concern doesn’t stop with high levels of aflatoxins in grain containing pet foods/treats.  Very low levels of all types of mycotoxin contaminated grains are a risk to pets.  Low levels of mycotoxins in pet foods have been linked to liver disease, kidney disease and cancer.

Another significant concern is the meat and/or internal organs from livestock (cattle/poultry) fed mycotoxin contaminated feed will as well be contaminated.  A study from Veterinary Research Institute found ochratoxin A (another mycotoxin) in quail kidney, liver, muscles, yolk, and eggs six days after the birds were fed a single dose of the mycotoxin.  Another study found “aflatoxins were deposited in all tissues” of broiler chickens fed a diet of aflatoxin contaminated feed.  One more study found “the highest levels found were in the liver” for poultry fed a diet contaminated with aflatoxin.

It is short-sited of the FDA/USDA to allow aflatoxin contaminated feed to be fed to livestock animals.  This certainly helps farmers suffering from drought ridden conditions this year, however for the FDA/USDA to ignore the risks to all who consume the animals fed these contaminated grains doesn’t make sense.