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A model of milk safety

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In the best of times, the testing process for incoming milk at the Anderson Erickson Dairy in Des Moines is intense, as AE Director of Marketing Kim Peter explains.

That intensity also prevents AE’s milk from containing antibiotics, pesticides, and artificial growth hormones.

Apart from the initial taste and smell test performed just as the tanker is opened at the plant, a single milk load of about 6,000 gallons can undergo up to 25 separate tests before being accepted and pumped into several white silos outside. From there, the milk is separated, pasteurized and homogenized before going into AE products and heading over Hubbell Avenue to AE’s 5-story storage facility.

The process is already intense, but from August 31, 2012, to March 1, 2013, all milk processors in the state of Iowa were required to perform an additional test for the presence of aflatoxin, a potent carcinogen sometimes found in drought-damaged corn, such as that fed to dairy cattle and passed into their milk.

Under the aflatoxin testing requirement, Anderson Erickson found no aflatoxin in any milk that came through its facility.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture decided to end the aflatoxin-testing requirement on March 1. As Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey explains, the Department felt that no appearance of aflatoxin in milk since November 7, 2012, demonstrated that milk processors were adequately handling the problem without redundant testing mandated by IDALS.