Wet weather across the Prairies has increased the potential for the formation of ochratoxin A (OTA), a potent mycotoxin that can form on cereals. Retailers can help wheat, barley and oat growers protect their investments and reduce market risk by sharing information on how to keep OTA out of stored grain. Continue reading for important information from Keep it Clean! and Cereals Canada.

OTA is produced by Penicillium verrucosum, a naturally occurring soil fungus, that can form on stored grain. Unlike deoxynivalenol (also known as DON or vomitoxin) which is formed in the field, OTA forms exclusively in storage in wet grain or when water comes in contact with grain.

Prevention of even small pockets of OTA-contaminated grain during storage is the only way that it can be managed to protect health and prevent product recalls. To mitigate the risk, advise growers to follow these Keep it Clean! safe storage protocols:

  • Keep bins and grain handling equipment clean, thoroughly cleaning dust and debris between grain lots.
  • Ensure crops are harvested or dried to a safe level for storage.
  • Cool the grain quickly to well below 10°C and keep it cool for as long as possible to minimize condensation in the bin. Even fine droplets of condensate can allow the fungus to grow.

Visit keepingitclean.ca/cereals/storage for further information on OTA and how it forms, along with visual examples of OTA formation at critical points of handling and storage.

Please share this timely information with producers. Working together, we can maintain Canada’s reputation as a supplier of high-quality cereals and keep markets open for all!

Keep it Clean! is an initiative by the Canola Council of Canada, Cereals Canada and Pulse Canada to provide growers with the information they need to ensure their crops are market ready. Visit keepingitclean.ca for useful tips and information on growing a market-ready crop.

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