cereals From August 2014 newsletter

Ergot sclerotia contamination of cereals

In response to proposed EU legislation, our Cereals and Cereal Applications Testing (CCAT) group has produced a method for the assessment of ergot sclerotia in cereals and grain intake. Sclerotia are the fruiting bodies of fungi of the genus Claviceps and are a problem, particularly in their primary host rye, because they contain significant levels of toxic ergot alkaloids.

The method, developed as part of a member subscription funded project, estimates the number of fruiting bodies in a consignment of grain. As part of the validation of the method, a ring-test, using known quantities of sclerotia in a range of cereals, was undertaken, involving 19 milling sites, and this showed the method to be robust and suitable for purpose. The method has been included by nabim in its code of practice.

Although the legislation has not yet been agreed by the EU, the method will be applicable to the levels likely to be significant - up to 0.05% in wheat and up to 0.25% in rye. The imposition of maximum levels will impact on all millers and will encourage best practice when examining grain samples at intake for sclerotia.

Visit the project website here

Contact: Mervin Poole
+44(0)1386 842287

Contact an expert