The US FDA has approved a request from the state of Illinois to allow feed containing increased levels of a toxin to be used even though is could be fatal to livestock.
Under the FDA guidelines, corn grown in Illinois, where toxin levels are higher this year because of drought, can be safely fed to livestock, Jeff Squibb, a spokesman for the state agency said. The blended corn must be clearly identified and labelled for animal feed use only and cannot contain corn with levels greater than 300 parts per billion. Illinois is the second biggest producer, behind Iowa, which received similar approval recently.
The FDA was responding to a request earlier this week from the Illinois Department of Agriculture to allow the blending of corn containing more than 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin and less than 500 parts per billion with grain containing lower levels. The FDA forbids the mixing of corn containing aflatoxin with uncontaminated grain.
Aflatoxins, chemicals produced by mold fungi, are considered carcinogenic to animals and humans, according to Iowa State University. Conditions were prime for the fungus to produce toxin during warm August nights in a period of drought.
Corn containing aflatoxin levels greater than 20 parts per billion cannot be used for human consumption or be used to feed dairy animals or for immature livestock, the Iowa Department of Agriculture said in a statement.