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Recent dog food recall highlights 2012 corn crop mold problem

The problem of mold in 2012's US corn crop was once again highlighted following a dog food recall by grocery chain Hy-Vee, as the industry continues to look for ways to enhance petfood safety, according to a report.

Hy-Vee recently recalled five of its private-label dog food brands across eight US states due to elevated levels of aflatoxin from contaminated corn used to make the petfood.

"The toxin becomes more prevalent in a drought year," said Ruth Comer, Hy-Vee spokeswoman. "We had worse drought this past year than we've had in years, so it's not totally surprising that we have a bigger aflatoxin problem this year than in the past."

In fact, crop insurance data from the US Department of Agriculture show payouts for mycotoxins, aflatoxin being the most common, reached nearly US$75 million for 2012, triple levels of a year ago. Nearly 85 percent of the claims were filed in six USA states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri.

Higher concentrations of aflatoxin were expected even before the new bushels were harvested in fall 2012. In September 2012, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska received Food and Drug Administration approval to increase the amount of aflatoxin-contaminated corn that could be blended for animal feed.

"There is certainly more awareness this year," said Pat Tovey, director of technology and regulatory compliance with the Pet Food Institute. "This is such a big issue in petfood."

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