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UK Mycotoxin Risk Assessment 2012: Update

31 July 2012

UK - With rain forecast this week, and pundits prematurely questioning UK wheat crop quality, understanding the process of Mycotoxin risk assessment will be important for 2012.

An NFU summary follows on how farmers will be expected to establish risk before mid-September, when a procedure for managing mycotoxin risk over the rest of the crop marketing year is agreed among national trade associations.

Understanding fusarium mycotoxin risk

The NFU and other parts of the UK cereal supply chain have come together to develop an approach to help farmers show that due diligence has been exercised when assessing the risk of contaminants.

For mycotoxins this builds on a number of factors indicating risk. These can be understood through CropMonitor assessment of species present on wheat, the HGCA risk assessment for individual field circumstance, through rapid testing on farm and at grain intake and finally from HGCA formal monitoring using official EU methodology from the legislation, which is more accurate than any of the rapid commercial tests in use.

Mycotoxin risk in wheat may yet be lower than many fear

Despite being wet in June, the weather was also very cool, which appears to have favoured fusarium species that don’t go on to produce mycotoxins just before harvest.

In Late July 2012 data was published on CropMonitor indicating that Microdochium spp, the species most likely to not produce mycotoxins, is prevalent in most areas. But despite the bad weather, risk was only Low to Moderate at the sample site in the South and in the East, and nationally only Moderate at this stage.

From CropMonitor, 30 July 2012: “Isolation and identification of the pathogens responsible for the FHB symptoms has been completed for 28 per cent of the samples with the early results indicating that the pathogen causing the vast majority of symptoms is the non-toxin producing Microdochium nivale.”

CropMonitor data, information about fusarium species and mycotoxins, and images, can be found online. You can also connect via Twitter @CropMonitor.

Completing the HGCA risk assessment for fusarium mycotoxins is required for all wheat for human consumption within AFS Red Tractor farm assurance and results should be included on the grain passport.

HGCA sampling guidance is available to help ensure a representative sample is obtained for the purposes of analysing stored grain for mycotoxin levels.

The NFU will meet nabim flour millers, breakfast cereal manufacturers, maltsters, grain traders with food safety authorities and the HGCA on September 19 to assess the situation and determine if it is necessary to continue 100 per cent pre-movement testing of wheat for human consumption.

TheCropSite News Desk

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