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New Report Examines North American Approach to DON Occurrence, Regulation, and Management in Grains

St. Paul, Minn. (February 2015) — A recently released report coordinated by AACC International (AACCI) considers the occurrence of the fungus-produced toxin deoxynivalenol (DON) in the North American grain supply chain and the adequacy of current and potential management practices to maintain consumer safety.

Titled "DON Occurrence in Cereal Grains: A North American Perspective," the report asserts that current practices throughout the grain supply chain are effectively controlling the incidence of excessive DON in products produced by North American mills and that the overall occurrence of DON in North America does not appear to be different than other reported levels around the world.

The report recommends that any new DON regulations or protocols should be based upon the dietary patterns of impacted populations, identify appropriate stages for testing along the harvesting and milling continuum to maximize health outcomes, and also be practically achievable to reduce any supply and trade disruptions.

"This report brings together some of the best minds in government, industry, and academia to examine this important issue from a system-wide perspective," said Glen Weaver of Ardent Mills. "For regulators tasked with protecting public health, this unique approach provides a clear picture of how the North American grain supply chain efficiently responds to natural spikes in DON by focusing on meeting strict limits on the presence of DON in the products purchased by consumers rather than arbitrary limits placed on the grain coming from an individual farmer's field."

Published in the January-February 2015 issue of Cereal Foods World, the report was developed by 13 authors from the United States and Canada with broad participation and funding from numerous government and industry partners.

Data presented in the report suggests that as grain moves along the supply chain its quality is improved and levels of DON decrease due to normal grain-handling procedures and other management strategies. Specifically, the flour fraction destined for human consumption typically contains 10 to 20 times lower DON levels than those observed in the bran or germ fractions, which are mostly used for animal feed.

"NAMA members are committed to providing consumers with access to safe and affordable food," said Benjamin Boroughs of the North American Millers' Association. "As other parts of the world grapple with the challenge posed by Fusarium head blight and DON, this report shows how in recent decades millers, farmers, and the broader grain industry in North America have made strategic, science-based investments to create an agile food system that protects consumer health while avoiding food waste."

AACCI is a global, nonprofit association of nearly 2,500 scientists and food industry professionals working to advance the understanding and knowledge of cereal grain science and its product development applications through research, leadership, education, superior technical service, and advocacy.