Millers ‘letting supply chain down’ with mycotoxin approach
THE NFU has accused millers of ‘letting down the whole wheat supply chain’ in adopting a ‘belt and braces’ approach to mycotoxin risk.
The union is angry that millers have stated their intention to continue with both risk assessment within farm assurance and on-farm and random at-mill mycotoxin testing in 2009/10.
NFU combinable crops chairman Ian Backhouse, who recently met with others in the milling supply chain to discuss the issue, said the regime was ‘beyond excessive’.
Mr Backhouse said he accepted members had a responsibility to manage the risk of mycotoxins, and other potential contaminants. The NFU had worked to ensure the appropriate mechanisms were in place through crop assurance schemes.
But he said it was unreasonable to demand farmers go to the expense and effort of sampling and testing for mycotoxins in a year like 2009 when ‘all sides agreed there was little or no risk of consumer exposure’.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Backhouse said: “Farmers would be very supportive of processors and retailers engaging with the assurance schemes and making use of the risk assessment and support a move away from the present regime of sampling and testing for DON mycotoxins.
“We believe reliance on notoriously inaccurate testing for mycotoxins is a flawed approach, elevated to a status far beyond its merits by a food industry seemingly determined to allow the issue of DON to become a marketing tool for use with its customers.”
“Reliance on costly and unreliable testing for mycotoxins is letting the whole wheat supply chain down by diverting far too much industry attention to what, in reality, is a minor issue when we have significant challenges facing us in the coming years.
He said the HGCA risk assessment was ‘more accurate and timely, costs less, and is less wasteful of valuable grain’.
“Our message to farmers is be aware of the increasing demands in the milling wheat supply chain, find out exactly what mill you might be sending grain to, what their demands are likely to be when you finally deliver the crop, and ensure you know if the milling premium offered reflects the additional effort, costs and risks involved in testing wheat in your own situation,” Mr Backhouse said.