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Low Vomitoxin In Canadian Wheat

Canada’s wheat crop has only low levels of the toxin that has caused Brazil to impose strict testing on United States wheat shipments, the Canadian Wheat Board said Sept. 19.

Brazil sanitary officials said Sept. 18 they will test incoming U. S. wheat shipments for traces of vomitoxin, a toxin that can sicken humans and livestock.

Vomitoxin is a byproduct of fusarium head blight, a fungal disease that attacks small grains and thrives in wet, humid weather. Canada’s western province of Manitoba, where fusarium is usually concentrated, had a wet spring, but cool temperatures kept fusarium from spreading, said Lawrence Klusa, the quality control manager for the wheat board.

“It looks really good this year in terms of (low vomitoxin levels in) western Canadian wheat,” he said.

The average vomitoxin level in recent Canadian crop samples is 0.1 to 0.2 parts per million, a fraction of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration standard of one part per million in food products. The general guideline for vomitoxin in wheat fed to cattle is five parts per million, Klusa said.

Canada, which mainly grows spring wheat and durum, shipped 136,000 tonnes of wheat to Brazil last year, making it a significant but not leading export market.

Wheat board officials declined comment on whether vomitoxin in the U. S. crop presents an export opportunity for Canada.

“It’s always good to have relatively low levels of fusarium,” said CWB spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry. “You want your product to be as high quality as it can and that’s a positive thing for farmers and for the wheat board’s marketing efforts.”

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