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Rice Disinfestation: An important quality assurance step
There are certain type of insects that love rice as much as us. They are ubiquitous and they can be found all over the world.
They lay eggs into rice kernels during the rice growing.You find the same in allmost all other food plants also. In a healthy rice crop these eggs are far and few between. The eggs can lay dormant for month but when the rice is ripe and dry and warm and laying still the eggs hatch and living insects will multiply.
The same happens to most agricultural products.
As a standard procedure to kill these eggs rice is treated with Methyl Bromide or Aluminum Phosphate. As Methyl Bromide increase greenhouse effects in the atmosphere international agreements have led to a large reduction and replacement with the (less effective) aluminum phosphine.
For organic rice the normal poisonous substances to kill insects in all its forms (adult, larvae, pupae and egg) are not allowed. The method of choice for organic rice is a modified atmosphere treatment. This can be a low oxygen atmosphere, high pressure treatment with quick decompression or a low oxygen combined with CO2 treatment.
A correct treatment is very important to assure that healthy and non infested product arrives at destination.
For our Thai project we have chosen modified atmosphere combined with CO2 treatment.
The Thai law prescribes treatment with 2 kg of CO2 per metric ton of rice and a treatment time of 15 days. While this is already a better treatment than many rice exporting country prescribe, many international clients report reception of infested rice even if product is treated according to this standard.
We have improved this process and we you can learn specifics HERE (To be published soon)
Any analysis you can not be more trusworthy than the quality of the sample that is analyzed.
Accordingly the quality of the sample of of the utmost importance.
Some of the big problems like GMO contamination or mycotoxins usually are not spread throughout a lot but appear in clusters.
GMO can be carried over from a GMO field by remaining kernels remaining in the harvesting machine. They then will be washed out by first product from the non-GMO field and the resulting GMO beans are found in a relatively small cluster.
Alflatoxins appear often in combination with mold. Post harvest mold often comes from contact with water which may be very local, so the mold-growth will very much concentrate in one place. Still the concentration of this contamination can be very high, but they will not be found with perfunctory sampling bu still may contaminate a big quantity of product in later industrial processing.
In India, Thailand and Cambodia farms are typically very small. Accordingly one "bad egg" does not bring too much problematic product. To still catch this, sampling a high number of increments is needed.
The most stringent regulation for sampling of food stuff is the EU mycotoxin regulation COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No
For cereals it is typically 100 incremental samples for lots beween 20 and 100 mt.
The sampling instruction we prescrie to the surveyors we work with define clearly the number of incremental samples. For the typical lot / sublot size of 20-100 metric tons 100 incremental samples are required.
Also very important is to have the sampling instruction available in a local language. While the surveyors of leading Quality Assurance Providers like SGS, BV or SGT typically are well trained, they often do not read or speak English.
We ask the sampling surveyor to sign off on the sampling in his local language report stating the following sentence:
"Sampling has been done as laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No
All incremental samples are combined and homogenized thoroughly, then made into 3 combined subsamples of about 5kg each.
After the representative samples have been taken by Surveyor stack is sealed to ensure that the identity of sampeled products stays guaranteed and same product is shipped lateron.
One sample is sent to the customer or customers lab for chemical, physical and organoleptic analysis, one sample is stored by to us as retain sample and one sample stays with surveyor.
During all that time the product stays under seal, in case of rice under CO2 storage. The typical 17 to 21 days of CO2 treatment give ample time for transport and analysis. Sometimes Analyses need to be repeated or addtitional analyses have to be performed as a result of a previous result. This may then exceed the time of standard CO2 treatment.
Also in these cases the CO2 stack stays closed and is opened only when we have green light from our customer and only on the day of container loading. This way risk of recontamination is very much minimized.
We line the container on all 4 sides and on top of palettes with corrugated paper. We always make sure that the paper used for lining the containers also has undergone the CO2 decontamination process. Corrugated Paper as a natural and partially recycled product is attractive to may insects. As it is typically bought in larger quantites and sits in the warehouse for some weeks or month before usage, there is certain probability that insect contamination occurs. We prevent recontamination by keeping the lining paper also under CO2 until day of container loading.
Same problem is with the palettes. While we use exclusively ICCP certified heat treated palettes (to make them insect free) it must be ensured that the palettes are fresh and arrive a the warehouse from the producer only shortly before usage to ensure the untainted, healthy quality.
To be continued...