Cyprus: Ministry keeping close eye on aflatoxin levels


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THE AGRICULTURE Ministry is keeping close watch on dairy and sheep farms after high levels of the carcinogenic neurotoxin aflatoxin M1 were found in fresh milk and animal feed.

The discovery comes only months after an aflatoxin outbreak threatened to cripple the islandís dairy industry.

The aflatoxin discovery was made on Thursday during Veterinary Service and Cyprus Milk Industry Organisation inspections.

The ministry said all necessary measures were being taken to ensure public health was protected.

Agriculture Minister Michalis Polynikis said that aflatoxin checks at farms had recently been stepped up due to the current high levels of heat and humidity which favoured the breeding of aflatoxins.

By yesterday, milk from four dairy farms and three sheep farms was found with higher than permissible levels of aflatoxin M1.

A further five dairy farms are under investigation for being found with high levels of aflatoxin M1, albeit within the legal limit.

The farms have all been placed under close surveillance, as well as the dairy manufacturers that were supplied by them. Any milk or dairy products found to contain higher than normal levels of the carcinogenic neurotoxin are seized and destroyed, the ministry said.

Moreover the Agriculture Ministry has also found concentrations of aflatoxin B1 above the legal limit in samples taken from two cargo loads of corn.

The first shipment weighing 6,600 tonnes was imported from the Ukraine by AGS Agrotrading Ltd in May and the second shipment, weighing, 1,300 tonnes was imported from Romania on August 18 by SEDIS.

The ministry said it had seized the entire shipment of corn imported this week and was currently undergoing the seizure of the corn imported in May. When the latter shipment first arrived in Cyprus it had been checked and cleared for aflatoxin B1.

Aflatoxin M1 is the hydroxylated metabolite of aflatoxin B1 and is usually found in milk or milk products obtained from livestock that have ingested contaminated feed.



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