FDA approves request from state of Illinois to allow in animal feed corn containing increased levels of aflatoxin, which can be fatal to livestock; USDA allowing aflatoxin levels to exceed more than 20 parts per billion

CHICAGO , September 27, 2012 () – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a request from the state of Illinois to allow in animal feed corn containing increased levels of a toxin that can be fatal to livestock.

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, Jeff Squibb, a spokesman for the state agency said today in a telephone interview. The FDA forbids the mixing of corn containing aflatoxin with uncontaminated grain.

Under the FDA guidelines, corn grown in Illinois, where toxin levels are higher this year because of drought, can be safely fed to livestock, Squibb said. The blended corn must be clearly identified and labeled 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 on Sept. 18.

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, according to a document on the university’s website.

Corn containing aflatoxin levels greater than 20 parts per billion cannot be used for human consumption or used to feed dairy animals or for immature livestock, the Iowa Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

Indiana, the fifth-largest U.S. corn producer, has filed a blending request with the FDA and was awaiting a response, Jeannie Keating, a spokeswoman with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, said in a telephone interview.

--Editors: Daniel Enoch, Millie Munshi

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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