Bureau Veritas targets on-site aflatoxin testing

Picture: Bureau Veritas

Bureau Veritas and Schutter Group have introduced an aflatoxin pre-shipment inspection and quality control process.

It is designed to protect producers, shippers, buyers and feed processors by mitigating the risk of toxin exposure through on-site detection tests.

Schutter Group was acquired by Bureau Veritas earlier this year as part of the firm’s agri-food strategy.

The firm offers aflatoxin control services during the vessel pre-loading step to the testing process. 

Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin produced by two types of mould: aspergillus flavus and aspergillus parasiticus.

Aspergillus flavus is often found when certain grains are grown under stressful conditions such as drought or excessive precipitation levels. Exposure to aflatoxins can cause liver damage and cancer.

Aflatoxin testing at ports

Grains and by-products are taken as samples during discharge of inbound delivery trucks or directly on a shipping vessel’s load conveyor belt.

Product testing is then performed using quantitative strip tests that quantify total aflatoxin content within seven to 10 minutes.

Alan Shirley, VP marketing and sales at Bureau Veritas Agri-Commodities, said it can perform aflatoxin quality control and detection for the agriculture export season.

“We have invested in equipment and test kits to address on-site aflatoxin testing needs in high-demand ports and have five laboratories approved by both FOSFA and GAFTA to perform in-house analysis,” he said.

“The service is an essential element of our grain quality control process and fundamental to our inspection service adding value for customers in the global agricultural industry.”

For testing at ports, lateral flow has been adopted as a method that can be consistently repeated by trained inspectors and contribute to the higher level of repeatability.

Traditionally, aflatoxin testing on vessels has been done based on total vessel composite sample. 

Bureau Veritas said sampling increments are consistent and the sample is considered representative of the cargo quality but it does not address potential aflatoxin concentrations in sub lots or ‘hot spots’.

Both shippers and buyers are addressing this by implementing aflatoxin analysis on individual sub lot, hold composite or inbound trucks prior to discharge to elevator or vessel, it added.

Brazil corn harvest

Last year Brazilian corn crops were heavily impacted by aflatoxin problems, mainly due to drought in Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and Minas Gerais.

The country is about to have one of the largest corn harvests in recent years, so monitoring and testing of the 2017 corn crop is required to alleviate product contamination, food safety concerns and global cargo rejection resulting in economic losses.

Bureau Veritas uses Envirologix test kits in Brazil for aflatoxin analysis with a limit of detection of 2.5ppb and limit of quantification up to 100ppb.

Testing can be performed for vomitoxin and DON, fumonisin, Ochratoxin and Zearalonone.

Extraction uses distilled water for health and safety reasons plus the availability and storage of solvents at port testing sites.

Shirley said for vessel loading control, samples are taken incrementally throughout loading at rates determined by trade association rules.

“At port loading elevators, the automatic sample diverter is set to divert a portion of the loading to eventually compile a sub lot representative composite of 5-10lbs,” he said.

“As per GAFTA rules, 50 incremental samples are taken to form 5,000 metric ton sub lot for analysis but this increment can be decreased per clients’ requirements down to as low as 500 metric ton increments.

“For inbound truck sampling , trucks can be probed using an automatic truck probe or by manually sampling key areas around the truck at various heights using a brass grain probe, sampling rates for this service can be considered at 20 metric ton truck samples.”

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