Zearalenone (ZON) is a mycotoxin produced by the fungi Fusarium graminearum, which produces fusarium head blight in wheat. The presence of elevated levels of ZON is particularly associated with rainfall at harvest leading to significant delays in harvesting and warm moist conditions for fungal growth.

Legal limits are established for the presence of ZON in grain, as follows:

UK Legal ZON Limits in Grain Intended for Human Consumption

  ZON (ppb)
Unprocessed common wheat and barley 100
Unprocessed durum wheat and oats 100
Flour 75
Finished products 50
Infant food 20

EU Guidance Values for ZON in Grain Intended for Animal Feedstuffs

  ZON (ppb)
Feed Grains 2000
Complete feedstuffs for pigs 250 (100*)
Complete feedstuffs for calves, lambs and kids 500

* Applies to feed intended for piglets and gilts

The presence of ZON in UK crops is normally low; HGCA undertakes a monitoring programme to check levels and assist the cereals chain in developing an appropriate annual risk management strategy.