Legal restrictions on the amount of mycotoxin contamination in grain caused by cereal fusarium infections are causing unease in the European grain supply chain.

Limits for mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON) in cereals intended for human consumption become a legal requirement from 1 July in Europe.

The biggest issue is liability, said Mike Adams, international manager at grain merchant Frontier.

“No one is sure where the protection lies – it is causing restrictions on what business firms are prepared to do in advance of harvest.”

Part of the problem was a lack of confidence in sampling procedures for mycotoxins across the EU, said Andrew Flux, crop marketing assistant director at the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

“Different samples from the same wheat lot can give significantly differing results.”

It meant companies could be trapped between contradictory analyses, he suggested.

“What happens if a boat is tested under the limit in the USA but over when it lands in Spain?

Where does the liability lie?

It is a muddy issue.”

Negotiations throughout the supply chain were ongoing, he noted.

“But it is quite worrying when the largest importer of milling wheat in Spain doesn’t really know how it is going to deal with the legislation.”

However, the limits could help UK producers because millers might be forced to find alternative sources of high protein hard milling wheats usually imported from the USA and Canada, which can suffer from high mycotoxin levels.

“It will come down to price, quality and the miller’s attitude to risk.”

mike.abram@rbi.co.uk