SOME ten tonnes of milk has been destroyed because it had more than the permissible amounts of the toxic substance aflatoxin, the agriculture minister has said.
Nicos Kouyialis said veterinary services – in charge of conducting checks on pasteurised milk before it reaches consumers – have assured him all milk in the market is safe.
The minister said animal feed in four farms in Cyprus contained aflatoxin levels over the permissible threshold of 20 microgrammes per kilo.
One farm has already been given the all-clear, he said adding that thorough milk checks ensured the consumer was protected.
But in the meantime, ten tonnes of cow milk were confiscated and destroyed, Kouyialis told state broadcaster CyBC.
But Kouyialis said he was not in a position to know the origin of animal feed.
Head of the cattle farmers association Savvas Evangelou blamed the grain commission, a semi-governmental body that imports and sells animal feed. “If it were a private (body) then it would be all over the radio,” he said. “Someone is not doing their job well,” Evangelou said.
He added that farmers stood to lose from messing about with animal feed and the onus lay with the seller to give them feed according to specifications.
Farmers buy animal feed “believing due procedures have taken place” and incur losses if the milk they produce does not meet standards, Evangelou said.
The grain commission’s head, Takis Kannaris, said at his end the cattle farmers were making an unsubstantiated assumption. The grain commission only accepts animal feeds whose aflatoxin levels are even lower than the accepted threshold, Kannaris said.
He said that last week a sample tested at 6.2 microgrammes per kilo and the ministry warned farmers even though this was within accepted amounts. But he also denied knowing where the animal feed originated from, adding that responsibility for storage and handling the feed lies with the farmers themselves.