Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin produced by two types of mold: aspergillus flavus and aspergillus parasiticus. Aspergillus flavus is common and widespread in nature and is most often found when certain grains are grown under stressful conditions such as drought. Favorable conditions for mold growth include high moisture content and high temperature. At least 13 different types of aflatoxin are produced in nature with aflatoxin B1 considered as the most toxic. While the presence of Aspergillus flavus does not always indicate harmful levels of aflatoxin it does mean that the potential for aflatoxin production is present. The Food and Drug Administration has established action levels for aflatoxin present in food or feed to protect human and animal health. The FDA will consider action if aflatoxin levels exceed: 20 ppb for corn and other grains intended for immature animals (including immature poultry) and for dairy animals, or when its destination is not known; 20 ppb for animal feeds, other than corn or cottonseed meal; 100 ppb for corn and other grains intended for breeding beef cattle, breeding swine, or mature poultry; 200 ppb for corn and other grains intended for finishing swine of 100 pounds or greater; 300 ppb for corn and other grains intended for finishing (i.e., feedlot) beef cattle and for cottonseed meal intended for beef cattle, swine or poultry. All corn exported from the United States is required to be tested for aflatoxin. Aflatoxin testing services are available nationwide, upon request and for a fee using several different types of test kits approved by GIPSA.
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