April 13, 2019 / 2:48 PM / 6 days ago

Egypt accepts French wheat cargo after re-testing

CAIRO (Reuters) - A French wheat cargo Egypt had rejected by Egypt due to high levels of the grain fungus ergot has been re-tested and found to have acceptable levels, a ministry document showed and an Egyptian official said.

The cargo at the Red Sea port of Safaga will be offloaded and distributed to mills after the test showed a 0.01 percent ergot level, Othman Mohammad Younes, general manager of the Safaga silo, told Reuters. A ministry of agriculture document, obtained by Reuters, also showed a test result of 0.01 percent.

Egypt’s ministry of agriculture was not immediately available for comment.

On Tuesday, sources told Reuters that the cargo of 63,000 tonnes of French wheat had been rejected and negotiations were underway to resolve the issue.

At the time, one source said a 0.1 percent ergot level had been found and that the acceptable level was 0.05.

An official source at Safaga later confirmed the rejection because of the 0.1 percent ergot content and said unloading of the wheat had been refused. A request was then made to re-test the cargo, he said.

Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, rattled the global market in 2016 when it reinstated a ban on even trace levels of ergot, which can cause hallucinations but is considered harmless at minor levels.

After several wheat cargoes were rejected, the government later readopted an internationally recognised standard allowing up to 0.05 percent ergot in wheat.

Reporting by Momen Atallah; writing by Lena Masri; Editing by Jane Merriman and Jan Harvey

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