The aftermath of the notorious 2012 drought continues to impact the shelves of U.S. grocery stores.
As February came to a close, an Iowa pet store, Hy-Vee Inc., was forced to recall several lines of its privately produced dog food upon discovering a toxic substance within the product. The substance found, aflatoxin, is a product of last season’s drought.
Aflatoxin is created by mold that typically grows in a dry climate. Farmers and storeowners were aware of the possible crop effects that could occur following a drought, and many were “on high alert” reported Reuters.
The affected dog food was tested prior to hitting the grocery store shelf; however, the aflatoxin was not originally detected. An Iowa inspector from the Department of Agriculture found the toxic substance during a random testing.
The issue lies specifically with the 2012 corn crop, which continues to be closely monitored. Unfortunately, a main component used to make pet food and cattle feed is corn. With this knowledge, pet stores should conduct product testing on an ongoing basis. Many contaminated products have been detected and trashed.
The CEO of Pro-Pet, Michael Wright, said that his organization tests each delivered corn load, reported Reuters.
Crop insurance data from this year revealed that $75 million worth of insurance payouts were associated with mycotoxin claims (a substance closely related to aflatoxin). This figure tripled within one year, said Reuters.
Will it Affect Human Food Products?
Unlike pets, people are usually not vulnerable to this dangerous toxin. According to a report from the University of Missouri, “Aflatoxin poses a low level threat to the human food supply in the United States because existing regulations and testing by federal agencies and industry exclude contaminated products from the food chain.”
However, if consumed, aflatoxin is hazardous to human health.
Would you like to know more about Aflatoxins? The USDA provides a variety of resources regarding health risks, preventative strategies and more.