Germany conducts safety tests on milk amid discovery that thousands of farms give animals feed contaminated with high levels of alfatoxin B1

BERLIN , March 4, 2013 () – Germany conducted safety tests on milk over the weekend, after it emerged that thousands of farms had given animals feed contaminated with high levels of the dangerous carcinogen aflatoxin B1.

Thousands of tonnes of poisonous animal feed was delivered to 4,467 farms in Lower Saxony alone, including 968 dairy farms, the state's agricultural ministry confirmed yesterday.

Aflatoxin B1, one of the strongest known naturally occurring carcinogens, is produced by the Aspergillus mould, which can develop on grain left in warm and damp conditions. Authorities banned milk deliveries from hundreds of dairy farms on Friday, fearing that milk from cows fed up to 30 times the accepted levels of aflatoxin could contain the cancer-causing substance.

"Aflatoxins are especially dangerous in milk," said Udo Paschedag, state secretary of the ministry, adding that they did not pose a problem in meat or eggs.

The ministry said it believed there was no risk to consumers after initial tests on Saturday showed milk from 79 of the affected farms contained only low traces of the carcinogen. Tests are being carried out on the remaining farms.

The ministry said it had tracked the breach to a shipment of maize from Serbia, 10,000 tonnes of which was processed into feed for chickens, cows and pigs. Josie Le Blond Berlin

(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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