In the throes of a crippling drought, the responsibilities of the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Products Inspection proved more important than ever.
“We make sure the consumer is getting what they pay for, whether it’s fertilizer for their garden or food for pets or livestock. Our main focus is to protect the consumer, whether it is on the farm or in town,” says Jerry Kirbach, bureau chief.
Every year the bureau conducts a statewide survey during the corn harvest to check for the presence of aflatoxin and fumonisin. In 2012, the survey revealed a widespread presence of aflatoxin at elevated levels due the drought.
Since aflatoxin is a known carcinogen, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established guidelines that restrict the level of any aflatoxin contaminated feed ingredient that can be fed to an animal based upon the specie as well as the maturity stage. These levels are measured in parts per billion.
The most restrictive level is for dairy production to protect all products used for human consumption. The milk plants test all incoming product for any presence of aflatoxin and if found the milk will be rejected.
The bureau applied to FDA for a waiver to allow grain facilities to blend aflatoxin contaminated corn. The application was approved in December and required any grain facility handling this corn to certify they would meet all FDA guidelines for grain shipped.
“This allowed utilization of the affected corn while offering additional assurance to the livestock producer of the feed products being purchased,” Kirbach says.