By Adriana Murillo-Williams and Alyssa Collins
Cargill announced on May 7th in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website that selected Southern States® feed products manufactured in North Carolina have been recalled due to elevated aflatoxins levels in nine states, including Pennsylvania. The list of recalled products
that exceeded the FDA’s action levels for aflatoxins in animal feeds
included feed for dairy and beef cattle, horses, goats, sheep, and poultry. The products have been removed from retail outlets, and there are no reports of affected animals to date, however, consumers are advised to check their feed. Most of the recalled products are small-volume retail items. If products of any of the affected lots are found, they should be returned to the local dealer of retailer. For more information, the phone number 800-822-1012 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 4:30 Easter Time) was provided by the company.
What are aflatoxins?
Aflatoxins are mycotoxins: substances produced by fungi that are highly toxic to humans and animals at very low concentrations. The most common mycotoxins are aflatoxins, fumonisins and trichothecenes. Aflatoxins were discovered in the 1960s, as a result of the sudden death of thousands of turkeys in England and ducklings in Kenya that had been fed with contaminated peanut meal as part of their ration. Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus are the two fungal species that are commonly associated with aflatoxin contamination of maize, peanuts, and other grain crops. Contamination with aflatoxins can occur during the growing season when the crop is in the field, and after harvest, when grain drying and storage conditions are below optimum.
Aflatoxins are carcinogenic to humans. In animals, aflatoxins will cause liver damage, immune system impairment, and reduced weight gain. However, the effect of aflatoxins on animal health and performance
will depend on the animal species, age, and nutrition, among other factors. In cattle that has been exposed to contaminated feed, and additional concern is the excretion of aflatoxins into milk of animals in lactation, which can lead to aflatoxin-contaminated milk
and dairy products.
Aspergillus ear rot of corn is not frequently seen in Pennsylvania. Common mycotoxin-producing fungi in grain crops in Pennsylvania belong to the genus Fusarium and will cause Gibberella
and Fusarium ear rot in corn, and Fusarium Head Blight
of small grains.