October 15, 2011

Posted in Articles: "Now is the Time"

To Know The Guidelines For Handling and Disposal of Flood Damaged Crops

Due to tropical storms and an overabundance of rain many acres of grain and other crops were inundated by floodwaters across Pennsylvania. This has generated concern about the potential use of flood-affected crops for food or animal feed, since floodwaters can contain sewage, heavy metals, or other contaminants and can also predispose these crops to molds and the development of toxins. Since this has been an unusual event, there is little local precedent for dealing with this issue.

Staff at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) have worked with federal agricultural agencies for guidance on the testing, handling and disposition of these crops. Based on their research and communications with United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials on this issue, the Department Of Agriculture offers this guidance regarding the testing, handling and disposition of these crops.

The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at FDA has assessed the potential use of these crops for food uses and concluded that there is no practical way to recondition these crops for use for human food. They recommend that the flood-affected crops be segregated and or otherwise disposed of to ensure they do not contaminate unaffected crops during harvesting, storage and distribution. Adulterated grain and other crops may be subject to seizure under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Based on this determination by FDA, grains, which have been harvested from flooded crops, should not be handled, used or marketed in a manner that could allow them to potentially be mixed with grains intended for human consumption. For example, soybeans intended for human food processing, such as soybean oil, should not be commingled with flood affected soybeans.

The Center for Veterinary Medicine at FDA has also assessed the potential use of these crops as animal feed. FDA has indicated that as harvested these crops would not be acceptable for use in animal feed. Producers must be aware that by choosing to harvest and use flood water adulterated crops as animal feed they will assume the liabilities associated with the potential problems of this feed.

To even be considered for use in animal feed, these crops should be cleaned and dried or heat-treated. The grain must be tested for the following criteria, at a minimum: mycotoxins, heavy metals, and the presence of certain pathogenic bacteria. Heat treatment must be done for a duration and at temperatures sufficient to destroy these pathogenic organisms. Additionally the crops must be tested for pesticide residues, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

Pennsylvania's dairy and livestock community should be aware that any animal feed crop touched by flood water is considered adulterated under federal law. It is reasonably likely that a variety of contaminants are present in the silt on the plants or on the plants themselves. Adulterated silage and forage should not be used as animal feed unless the risks of its use can be appropriately managed. If flooded feed is not managed appropriately, adulterated feed places animal health at risk and poses a means for contaminants to enter the human food supply, particularly through the milk supply.

Grain crops raised for feeding on-farm are not directly subject to federal and state regulations because the grains are not in commercial distribution. However, food (eggs, meat and milk) produced from feeding these grains may be regulated. Contaminants from potentially adulterated feed, if found in milk, may impact the farm's ability to ship milk. It is recommended that all producers test these grains to ensure that the flood affected grains are below the tolerances for the contaminants identified above.

Producers must be aware that by choosing to harvest and use adulterated crops as animal feed they will assume the liabilities associated with any problems from such feed. Beware of products intended to be used for or promoted to bind mycotoxins and other harmful toxins. They must be the subject of an approved Food Additive Petition (FAP) from the FDA or Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in food or feed if they are sold or intended to be used for this purpose.

For more information producers should consult with their local Penn State Extension office to assess the handling and use of flood-affected grains and other crops. More information can also be found at the PDA website: http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pennsylvania_department_of_agriculture/10297 When at the PDA website then search under the term "flood".

To Attend The Cover Crop Innovations Field Day

A full day tour of cover crop innovations will be held on October 27 at the Penn State Agronomy Research Farm and several collaborating farms in Centre County. The event will start at 9:30 and run until 4:30. Highlights will include the newly developed PSU Cover Crop Interseeder, cover crop cocktails, forage cover crops, and herbicide persistence effects on cover crop establishment. More information is available online at: http://extension.psu.edu/cover-crops/events/oct27-field-day or call Charlie White at 814-863-9922.


Quote Of The Week: "Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength." Corrie ten Boo

Leon Ressler
Lancaster County Extension Director
Penn State Cooperative Extension
Phone (717)-394-6851
Fax (717)-394-3962
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