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Crops Harvested from Flooded Fields Intended for Animal Food: Questions and Answers

1. Can I use crops that have been harvested from fields impacted by flooding for animal food?

Each situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis looking at a variety of factors such as the extent of flooding and the type of crop. In certain circumstances, crops harvested from fields that have been impacted by flood waters can be used for animal food, but usually these crops are unacceptable because of contamination. Flood waters from storms often contain sewage, pathogenic organisms, pesticides, chemical wastes, or other toxic substances. Mold growth is another serious concern for flood impacted crops intended for use in animal food. Some molds produce mycotoxins, which are toxic to certain animals and people. People who eat food products from animals that ate the mold may also suffer health effects.

2. How can I determine whether a crop harvested from flooded fields can be salvaged for animal food?

Before being used in animal food, crops exposed to flooding should, at a minimum, be tested for mold, bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals contamination. Depending on the test results, the crop may be acceptable for animal food use or it may be possible to salvage the crop by reconditioning the crop. Reconditioning is a broad term that covers certain types of processing.

3. What type of testing should I do?

Specific testing should include:

  • Mycotoxins, including aflatoxin, fumonisin, vomitoxin, zearalonone, and ochratoxin. Aflatoxins, fumonisins, and vomitoxins should not be present above levels found in FDA guidance. (Please see “For More Information” for the relevant guidance documents.)
  •  Heavy metals, specifically cadmium, mercury, and lead.
  • Certain pathogenic bacteria and their toxins, especially Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and Clostridium perfringens and botulinum.
  • Chemicals, such as pesticides, with particular emphasis on organophosphate and chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides.

As information becomes available regarding conditions near flooded crops, additional testing (for example, for a specific chemical, industrial or environmental contaminant) may be appropriate for producers to consider to ensure the safety of their products for use in animal food.

4. Can I salvage an adulterated crop into food that is acceptable for animal consumption?

The FDA will work with producers to consider requests to recondition an adulterated crop into animal food on a case-by-case basis.  Those requests should be directed to the public affairs specialist located at the closest FDA field office. 

Additionally, your state’s Department of Agriculture may have state-specific requirements regarding any attempt to clean, process, test, and sell/use these crops in animal food. FDA will also continue working with USDA, state partners, and associations on broader questions that may arise about crops for animal food.

5. What information do I need to provide to the FDA District Office if I have a reconditioning request?

FDA’s compliance guide (CPG 675.200) provides a step-by-step process for reconditioning requests.

For more information:


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