Fallout from the Drought: Aflatoxins in Corn

Aspergillus flavus in standing corn, SOURCE: University of Missouri

The drought this summer has affected the country in the short term; there is also no doubt that long-term effects will be felt for some time to come. According to Clemson University, “Drought and high air temperatures raise concerns over the potential of aflatoxin contamination of the corn crop that may impact the usability of much of the remaining drought-stricken crop.” Aflatoxins are the result Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus: molds that attack corn both in storage and in the field. Drought heightens possible alarm because, “One characteristic of drought is the substantially higher air temperatures. Most fungi flourish between 68 and 86 degrees but A. flavus has a much broader temperature range and an optimum growth temperature in the range of 96 degrees.”

Aflatoxins can affect both humans and animals in the food chain. According to Cornell University’s Department of Animal Science, “Aflatoxin-contaminated corn and cottonseed meal in dairy rations have resulted in aflatoxin M1 contaminated milk and milk products, including non-fat dry milk, cheese, and yogurt.” In humans, negative health effects range from cancers possibly resulting from the long-term carcinogenic properties of the toxins, to the  appearance of acute aflatoxicosis in individuals (namely reported in third world countries).  In animals, there is also a great deal of concern due to acute effects and long-term health effects of such exposure, as well.

Drought conditions throughout the United States, including in the Midwest have highlighted the need for further attention to be paid to this threat to humans and animals. The final effects on this year’s harvest are yet to be completely seen, but the favorable conditions for the production of aflatoxins bring heightened awareness to this year’s harvest. This is another difficult pill to swallow in a summer of already great challenge and frustration for many farmers and for those watching the food supply closely.

Testing, of course, is a way to prevent aflatoxins from reaching humans and animals. To meet the demand for testing methods in this time of concern, Nelson-Jameson will be selling FDA approved Aflatoxin Reveal™ test kits, and Idexx™ test kits.

Reveal Aflatoxin M1 Test Kit

SNAP Aflatoxin M1 Test Kit

For questions on aflatoxins and test kits please contact our experienced technical support staff at 800-826-8302 or sales@nelsonjameson.com.

A Picture of Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Ph.D.

About Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Ph.D.

Laboratory Products Department Manager, Nelson-Jameson, Inc.
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One Response to Fallout from the Drought: Aflatoxins in Corn

  1. Oh no. Other potential problem stemming from the drought. Not good. I just read an article earlier this week about how the drought is going to cause beef prices to skyrocket. Just what we need. As if the cost of living wasn’t enough already!

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