If you receive our monthly Nutrition eNews, perhaps you saw the story this week about the recent aflatoxin recalls and ASPCA's claim that the outbreak could be linked to wet weather throughout the Midwest US. According to several readers, this just can't be so.
Dr. Charles R. Hurburgh, Jr., professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and professor in charge of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative at Iowa State University, writes:
The recent article on aflatoxin in pet food originating from wet weather is, I hate to say, totally wrong. The fungi that produce aflatoxin do not grow well in wet conditions; they grow in hot dry conditions as the corn moisture is falling before harvest. Drought or hail or insect stress magnifies the rate of growth of these fungi. Hot weather in August is required.
We did not have those conditions this year in Midwest; a survey by our Iowa Department of Agriculture this past fall found no corn lots with aflatoxin even close to the 20ppb limits.
Really – I am sorry to be so direct, but our Extension program is dedicated to quality issues in the midwest and industry response. I would hate to see pet food manufacturers waste a lot of time and expense testing for something that did not occur. Now 2012 may be different – we don’t know yet.
My guess – the toxin corn came from the mid south and southwest where the conditions did exist for aflatoxin production. The grain handling industry tends to spread problems out through blending and transshipment among firms before use.
The ASPCA should be careful of facts before reaching conclusions; the real issue here is why the aflatoxin made it into the products because most pet food and human food buyers have protocols for testing which, although a little slow, will work to catch the real problem lots that then track through to products.
What do you think about Dr. Hurburgh's comments? What kind of protocols does your company have set in place for aflatoxin testing and are they reliable? What more can petfood producers do to ensure that more recalls don't happen?
Share you opinion!