After a dispute between regional and state inspections over whether milk is contaminated by the potentially dangerous aflatoxin, M1, Serbia is withdrawing all suspect milk from shelves.Serbia’s veterinary inspectorate has ordered all milk that some analysis shows is contaminated with the aflatoxin M1 to be pulled off the shelves.
Dairy companies have been instructed to test raw milk and finished products on a daily basis.
The Ministry of Agriculture stated that tests in early February showed that M1 was present above permitted levels in some samples of milk.
As samples from the same milk showed different test results, the samples will be sent for analysis in The Netherland, as recommended by the EU Reference Laboratories.
The results are expected to be released on February 26.
The ministry stated that the health of consumers was not at risk, even if they consumed the contaminated milk.
“Although the aflatoxin in some samples was above the legal limit, the level is is far below any concentrations that could cause health problems,” a press release stated.
Aflatoxins are produced by mould and can harm humans and animals if they enter the food chain in significant concentrations.
The ministry also announced it will determine which farms the contaminated milk came from, and introduce stricter control of imported milk.
Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro have meanwhile taken milk produced by the Croatian dairies Dukat and Vindija off the market amid fears of contamination by M1.
Serbia then stated that milk in the country was not contaminated and that tests showed all its milk was safe for use.
The change of heart came after Goran Jesic, Vojvodina’s provincial secretary for agriculture, announced that the results of an inspection in the province showed levels of M1 in more than 30 samples, from about 10 Serbian dairy companies, were 10, 20 and even 200 per cent higher than the legal limit.
It is believed that the M1 got into the milk chain through concentrated animal food.
Serbia was hit by a heavy drought in 2012 and some experts have warned that about 70 per cent of corn was contaminated by mould.
As the corn was then used as animal feed, cows may have become infected this way.