Millers have urged growers to assess the risk of mycotoxins in grain destined for human consumption before moving loads off-farm following higher-than normal incidence of the DON mycotoxin this harvest (Arable, 28 September).
Analysis of 3600 wheat samples in a joint National Association of British and Irish Millers/Agricultural Industries Confederation survey found that while the overall mycotoxin risk was low, a small proportion (around 5%) of samples tested were close to or above the EU limit of 1250ppb for DON.
“It is illegal to offer grain for sale above that limit, so it’s important farmers carry out a retrospective risk assessment, such is the variable nature of risk,” NABIM’s Martin Savage explained. “By this collective action, we’ll be able to demonstrate to the rest of the food chain we’re acting with due diligence.”
New grain passports, which contained an extra section detailing whether a risk assessment and testing had been carried out and what the results were, had been distributed by merchants, he added.
“It isn’t a legal requirement to carry out the risk assessment, but it is a requirement that farmers do not allow wheat exceeding the 1250ppb limit to enter the food chain – the risk assessment is one way of doing that,” Gleadell trading director David Sheppard said.
“Farmers have been consulted fully about this and it’s a vital way of showing we’re acting diligently.” Not completing the assessment could lead to delays as loads were tested, he added.
Mr Savage said crops in coastal counties from Lincolnshire to Cornwall were normally most at-risk from mycotoxins, although the summer’s high rainfall meant Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire were also at higher risk. “If the assessment reveals you’re at high risk, you need to get a DON test carried out. If grain is at medium risk and you’re in one of these high-risk counties mentioned, you should also get a proper test done.”
The risk assessment can be accessed via the HGCA or NFU websites.