PARIS, FRANCE — The government of Egypt has rejected a shipment of 63,000 tonnes of French wheat that arrived at Egypt’s Red Sea port of Safaga, saying the cargo exceeded the authorized levels of ergot, according to a report from Reuters.
According to Reuters, officials found 0.1% ergot in the wheat shipment, which exceeds the acceptable level of 0.05%.
A request has been filed to re-test the shipment, which was bought as part of an international tender by Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities, the news agency noted.
Egypt, which is the world’s largest importer of wheat, caused confusion in the global market in 2016 when it reinstated a ban on trace levels of ergot. Following three failed tenders, Egypt in September 2016 eliminated its zero-tolerance policy on ergot levels in wheat and promised to follow international standards allowing up to 0.05%. The confusing and ever-changing policies regarding levels of ergot turned off traders who were unwilling to risk making contracts that could later be rejected.
Ergot is a common grain fungus that is harmless in low quantities but may cause hallucinations when consumed in large amounts. The 0.05% ergot level is in line with the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of internationally recognized standards.