May 2, 2006


India clears a few samples of imported Australian wheat



A government-run Indian food laboratory has cleared a few samples from an Australian wheat cargo in quality tests, a senior official at the State Trade Corp of India (STC), said Monday (May 1).


"In samples drawn from the Australian wheat cargo, pesticides have been found within permissible levels," the official said.


The tests were conducted at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in southern Indian town of Mysore, he said.


STC is the agency that has imported wheat on behalf of India's federal government and it has contracted a purchase of 500,000 tonnes from Australia's AWB Ltd at US$178.75 a tonne, on cost and freight basis.


The first cargo carrying a little over 50,000 tonnes of wheat arrived last week at the southern Indian port of Chennai.


Earlier, tests conducted by health officials at Chennai port showed that pesticides exceeded tolerance limits set in the tender issued in February, the official said.


Subsequently, the matter was referred to Central Food Technological Research Institute.


"I think there was some communication gap earlier, the issue is now resolved," the official said, without elaborating.


Earlier in the day, the official said the quality issues relating to India's first consignment of imported wheat in over six years may have arisen because of different testing methods deployed in various countries.


"Since our quarantine and sanitary related testing procedures vary from that of Australia, it seems sample tests may have shown different results," the official said.


He said the issue relates to analysis of scientific tests and not poor quality per se.


According to the tender for import, the tolerance limit for hydrogen phosphide in the imported wheat has been set at nil. In addition, the wheat must also be from the current 2005/06 crop harvest.


The maximum moisture content has been set at 12 percent, the tender document said, and the minimum protein content on a dry weight basis should be 10 percent.


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