Due to hot and humid conditions in India, virtually all animal feeds contain molds or viable mold spores. Conditions favouring mold growth are high moisture content (usually more than 12%), availability of oxygen, warm conditions, and prolonged storage. Molds in feeds causes significant economic losses since it reduces nutrient density and affects palatability, most importantly it produces mycotoxins which are having detrimental effects on growth, milk production, reproduction, and immunity of animals.
Amongst all molds, the most dangerous of all is Aspergillus flavus, which produces aflatoxin B1 in feed. When this feed in consumed by the dairy animals, not only aflatoxin B1 causes damage to animals in more than one way but also a part of it is excreted in milk as M1. When milk containing M1 beyond permissible limits is consumed by the human beings, it is shown to be carcinogenic. In a recent national survey organized by the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), it was shown that in milk and milk products amongst all contaminants and adulterants, aflatoxin M1 in milk was the matter of maximum concern.
Considering the climatic and storage conditions in India, it is difficult to totally control aflatoxin B1 in feed, however, if proper clays are used in the feed, it is possible to bind more than 90% aflatoxin B1 in feed, which gets excreted in dung. Thus, level of aflatoxin M1 in milk is reduced significantly and this makes milk safer for human consumption.