Monday, August 31, 2015

Grain inspection shifts to environmentally friendly testing


Our Grain Inspection Program is moving toward a grain testing method that does not use hazardous materials. If the pilot project using water-based testing kits shows consistent results, the new method will have benefits for the environment and worker safety.
Craig Hoyt testing grain at
WSDA Longview office. 

WSDA provides important services to Washington’s grain producers and exporters. For instance, foreign buyers require testing for mycotoxins as a contract requirement. Most of this testing has been done with kits that include methanol.

The presence of methanol makes the program a generator of hazardous material under state and federal regulations for storage and disposal. Methanol is flammable and can produce health effects in people exposed to it.

Piloting water-based testing

As the first step in transitioning away from chemical-based testing, the southwest regional grain office – which includes Vancouver, Longview and Kalama – is piloting water-based kits. Manager Philip Garcia said it’s important to conduct side-by-side comparisons for solid data showing consistent test results.

“We want to be sure our customer’s operations are not disrupted and the testing results are accurate and repeatable,” Garcia said.

Program managers anticipate several advantages to the new process. Virtually eliminating handling and disposing of a hazardous substance would be better for the environment and for program staff by reducing exposure.

Mycotoxins are created by molds that affect the quality of grains. Inspection services monitor for mycotoxins to assure that contaminated grain products do not enter the food supply chain.

Protecting the food supply, maintaining high quality customer service and being good environmental stewards are the goals of this project.