Flooding raises concerns about stored grain quality

Flooding and wet conditions have resulted from extreme weather in much of the Central and Southern Plains of the U.S., including major parts of the Corn Belt. As a result, authorities are reminding grain producers and processors to be aware of the steps they should take to prevent contamination of stored grain.

In the case of floodwater, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes, affected grain stores might be contaminated with sewage, pesticides, chemical wastes and other toxic substances that have been swept away in the floods. These risks come in addition to the usual risks that come with extreme moisture — namely, pathogens and mycotoxin-producing molds.

Neogen’s Pat Frasco told Brownfield Ag News to take grain to market soon. Neogen’s research into mycotoxin levels in the U.S. and Canada has shown above-average levels of mycotoxins in the Midwest, including in areas currently affected by watery conditions.

“Seek to get the poorest quality grain moved as quickly as you can,” he said. “The poorest quality grain will not store well.” Listen to the full interview here.

Mycotoxins are damaging to human and animal health and negatively impact the quality of food. They’re produced by molds that grow on grains and other crops.

The FDA has outlined resources for grain contamination situations, including numbers that anyone storing grain can call for reconditioning requests. Read more here.

How to test for mycotoxins

Testing for mycotoxins has become an important regulatory standard throughout the food and feed production process; from farmers, to grain elevators, to the countless facilities producing finished products.

One quick and easy testing method is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). This antibody-based method provides fully quantitative results not only for mycotoxins, but also for other risks, such as food allergens and drug residues. These tests are extremely easy to perform and provide results in only minutes.

These tests can give both screening and quantitative results, and can be cheaper than sourcing a third party facility for analytical testing methods. Rapid testing solutions allow safety experts to save time, reduce costs and keep testing within their own facilities.

Neogen offers a weekly Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report during the North American growing and harvest season. The 2019 season will be here before we know it — subscribe to weekly updates in advance here.

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