CONFUSION OVER the presence of pink grains in crop samples means merchants should invest in independent testing to avoid rejection, say industry experts.

The presence of pink grains can indicate possible Fusarium contamination, which can generate harmful mycotoxins and lead to load rejection, according to the National Institute of Agricultural Botany.

But in some cases harmless factors have caused pink grains, and so Fusarium is not to blame, said a spokesperson.

Pink grains are both a food safety and a flour quality issue as the grain pinkness can affect flour colour, added Damian Testa from the National Association of British and Irish Millers.

“Individual mills are deriving their own policies regarding pink grains,” he said.

At some sites there were high levels of rejection this year, reported NIAB‘s David Kenyon.

To clarify the cause of pink grains, NIAB offers a commercial test that can detect harmful DON mycotoxin levels, or give consignments a clean bill of health.

“We recognise this is a great worry to grain merchants and farmers, which is why we are offering this rapid testing service.”

Test results can be turned around in three working days, at a cost of £35 + VAT.

In addition to its conventional testing service, NIAB has just launched diAgnomics, which uses DNA analysis to test for various seed infections.

With a 48-hour turnaround, NIAB claim the DNA based testing service can cut five days off the traditional testing process.