Farm Equipment for Every Season

The Importance of Food Safety in the Grain Industry

Grains are the most important and fundamental food sources that feed the eight billion people of planet Earth. In addition to direct consumption of wheat, oats, barley, corn, rice, and other grains, all of the above are used to feed animals that produce beef, pork chicken, and more.

That’s why food safety across the board starts with keeping the global grain industry safe from contaminants that can harm the health of humans and animals –- including our pets.

Several major contaminants are of top concern to grain growers, handlers, and regulators. They are:

  • Aflatoxin
  • Ochratoxin
  • Fumonisin B1
  • Deoxynivalenol
  • Zearalenone

In addition to these biological agents of contamination, heavy metals can also be a major problem. They include:

  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Lead

Another common food contamination is created through process. That is acrylamide, a chemical that can arise during high-temperature cooking or heating in storage facilities like metal grain bins.

All kinds of other stuff can contaminate grain as well, such as rodent droppings, dead rodents, birds and bird droppings, various microbes, dust, dirt, water, molds, and even human-sourced contaminants. To safeguard against these potential risks, consider incorporating high-temperature bund linings to enhance the protective measures in grain storage facilities.


Mitigating contaminations in stores of grain is a centuries-old science. Consider that ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Roman Empire, Greece, and others stored copious amounts of grain in various types of storage facilities –- and they had formal methods to regulate safe storage.

Today, monitoring, testing, and certifying the safety of grain is an advanced science and complex process. Some of the world and national organizations that handle this task are Codex Alimentarius and the European Food Safety Authority.

Here in the United States, the FDA, the USDA, OSHA, the CDC, and others all may play some role in formulating rules and procedures for how grain is stored, handled, processed, packaged, distributed, and more.

For example, the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) publishes the “Grain Inspection Handbook.” It spells out the procedures and policies for sampling grain and checking for contamination according to regulations developed under the United States Grain Standards Act (USGSA).

The inspections themselves are carried out by the Federal Grain Inspection Service. However, state agencies and private inspection services may also be involved in testing and inspecting grain.

A routine inspection will involve inspectors looking for specific violations, such as:

  • Failure to follow time and temperature control protocols.
  • Improper hygiene practices.
  • Inadequate sanitation procedures
  • Improper storage of grains and food products

Failure to comply with any regulation can bring serious consequences, from significant monetary fines to the closure of the food storage operation itself.

Supply Chain Disruptions

Pest and contaminant management can have an enormously significant impact on the supply of grain, especially when things go wrong, and substantial amounts of grain are lost to unsafe levels of contamination.

Once the efficient and timely flow of grain from producer to market and the end user is disrupted, getting it back on track can be an extremely difficult and costly problem. Two key areas are noted to prevent supply chain disruptions –- best harvest practices and efficient, effective, and safe storage methodologies.