As a new harvest gets under way growers have been issued with guidance on the use of the passport system for the sale of grain under the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured Cereals Scheme (NIFQACS).

A valid passport must accompany each delivery of cereal to the end user – be it farmer, merchant or feed miller. Coloured stickers applied to the passport are used to indicate the year of harvest and blue stickers have been issued to scheme members to identify the 2015 crop.

Purchasers of grain must ensure that the appropriate stickers are applied to the passport presented with each consignment and they are also required to record an individual identification number for the trailer used for delivery as well as the vehicle registration. Feed producers or merchants operating under the Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (UFAS) will be required to retain this information for inspection at their annual audit.

The assured cereals scheme is an important element in the network of schemes which help ensure the safety and integrity of the entire food chain. It is a code of practice which covers the crop -through growing, harvest and storage and is designed to manage the principle risks to the quality of the grain.

Particular emphasis is placed on the control of diseases in the crop which result in the production of mycotoxins. These toxins are harmful to animals and have the potential to cause contamination incidents in the human food chain. A copy of the HGCA guide to minimise the risk of Fusarium Mycotoxins has been issued to all scheme members. This details management practices and techniques for the control of the fungal diseases which are the precursors of mycotoxins.

Safe and secure storage, effective pest controls including a plan for the elimination of birds and rodents are all part of the strategy to produce grain fit to enter the food chain.

The scheme is administered by Northern Ireland Food Chain Certification and further details are available from NIFCC, Lissue House, 31 Ballinderry Road, Lisburn, BT28 2SL - Tel. 028 9263 3017