Monitoring of contaminants in UK cereals used for processing food and animal feed (2016–21)


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 August 2016 - 01 July 2021
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:


About this project

The challenge

Food and feed industries rely on consumer confidence. For the UK grain supply chain to remain competitive, it needs to maintain its reputation for compliance and quality. AHDB is highly valued for its independent work on monitoring agro-chemical residues and contaminants since the mid-1980s. Industry consultations have highlighted:

  1. The importance of monitoring contaminants in cereals to provide customer confidence.
  2. The need to help the UK grain supply chain prepare for new legislation and growing demands on supply.

The project

This project will conduct an annual survey of the incidence and levels of key mycotoxins (e.g. DON, ZON, T2/HT2, OTA and ergot alkaloids) and other contaminants (e.g. pesticides, heavy metals, CIPC and PAHs)  in representative commercial samples of UK-grown wheat, barley and oats and co-products (wheatfeed and oatfeed) and store samples as archive material. The data on the incidence and levels of key contaminants will be used to inform and alert the cereal industry on the safety of their products and inform discussions on impending revision of legislation. Current and emerging legislation and contaminant issues, which could impact on the safety of cereal-based foods and their acceptability in key home and overseas markets, will also be monitored as part of the project. 

The benefits

This project is an important part of providing effective quality assurance for the main UK cereals and their co-products. It provides an independent monitoring scheme for agrochemical residues and other contaminants. Sitting alongside industry-led assurance schemes, this work demonstrates that UK cereals for human consumption and animal feed are independently monitored and found to comply with EU and UK legislation.