Growers accept need for mycotoxin tests

Millers are said to be pleased with the response to their request (Arable, 30 January) that from 1 February that all human consumption grain deliveries should be accompanied by the results of a test for DON mycotoxins.

“It’s working really well,” said Nabim’s Martin Savage. “Some 85-90% of deliveries are arriving with a count, and that’s getting better all the time. The big merchants are embracing it well, and we’re very pleased that farmers and merchants have grasped the need for it they way they have.”

Mr Savage played down concern that nearly a third of the crop, based on tests by Harper Adams researcher Simon Edwards, could be above the threshold for zearalenone mycotoxin.

Those tests were based on unscreened trials, whereas in practice most grain at high moisture, with low specific weight or high DON levels was effectively self-eliminating and did not reach the mills, he said.

Sampling under the HGCA‘s annual project 3100 showed that ochratoxin A levels, for which the legal limit for human consumption was 5ppb, were only slightly higher than normal, he added.

But they could increase rapidly in grain that remained too damp, he warned.

“It’s a storage problem, so farmers should be on their guard if their moisture levels aren’t down properly yet. To avoid it follow the HGCA Grain Storage Guide.”

While Mr Savage acknowledged the need for farmers in Scotland to submit DON tests was debatable on the strength of Dr Edwards’ assertion that no grain there had ever exceeded DON or zearalenone limits, he pointed out that Scottish millers took deliveries from both sides of the border.

“We have to recognise that the whole food chain is now taking mycotoxins very seriously.”

Need a contractor?

Find one now