Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a potent, naturally-occurring mycotoxin that can form on stored cereal grains in high moisture conditions. Learn more about OTA and the Keep it Clean safe storage protocols that you can follow to mitigate the risk of OTA forming in your grain.
Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a potent mycotoxin that can form on stored cereal grains in high moisture conditions. OTA is produced by Penicillium verrucosum, a naturally-occurring soil fungus; but, unlike deoxynivalenol (also known as DON or vomitoxin) which is formed in the field, OTA forms exclusively in storage.
The most common source of Penicillium verrucosum spores is from soil particles, last year’s stored grain, grain handling equipment, and/or residues remaining in the bin. Penicillium can grow in small pockets of wet grain, or when water comes in contact with grain – even in bins that are generally well managed and properly aerated.
OTA can be a risk to market access as countries can have different maximum allowable limits of OTA in grain. OTA is not destroyed with heat or processing, so it can persist in the grain/grain products.
To mitigate the risk of OTA forming in your grain, adhere to the following 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.
See further information on OTA and how it forms, along with visual examples of OTA formation at critical points of handling and storage.
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. By taking steps to prevent the formation of OTA in stored grain, you can protect your investments and help keep markets open for all.
Managing storage is one of 5 Simple Tips to keep your crops ready for market. By properly storing your cereals, you can protect your investment and help keep marketing options open.