Mold growth in dried food such as grains, maize, or rice is not an appetizing sight. Farmers and handlers detest mold because it means their products are tainted and this results in a loss in their profits.
Annually, around a third of all produced food is lost to a number of factors, including mold growth. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), this means US $680 billion worth of loss for developed countries and US$310 billion for developing countries.
Aside from the fiscal consequences, mold growth can also lead to serious health risks. Aflatoxins, which are toxic substances that come with mold growth, can give both long- and short term effects.
One such effect is kidney and liver failure. Due to the toxicity of aflatoxins, organ failure can occur in humans who consume mold-infested food. Moreover, aflatoxins are also known to be mutagenic, leading to birth defects.
Read more: Reducing health risks through mold growth prevention
TIPS TO AVOID MOLDS
These reasons are why farmers and handlers always try to limit the chance of mold growth when storing their crops.
See some tips below to learn how they do it:
First, make sure the grains are at a safe moisture level before storing them. Wet or damp grains are notorious for breeding molds, so be certain to dry the grains sufficiently first. According to FAO, rice can be stored at a moisture level (MC) of 13.5%, while beans can be at 15%. For wheat and maize, 13.5% can also be a safe level.
Second, it is a good practice to keep external moisture away from the storage container and area. If moisture gets into the stored grains, mold will also begin to grow even if the grains were stored at a safe MC level. This means keeping the grains from rain and flood, which can severely damage stocks.
A third tip is to avoid high temperatures in the storage area. If the grains are stored outside, be sure to keep the container in the shade so as not to expose it in direct sunlight. High temperatures can trigger the remaining moisture in the grain to evaporate, leading to condensation and reabsorption of moisture once temperatures lower typically at night.
Lastly, use gas-tight and moisture-tight storage solutions. This will ensure that the grains are protected from moisture damage that can lead to molds. This step also protects the grains’ quality.
Hermetic storage, like the GrainPro Cocoon, can protect grains from moisture damage and mold growth. Additionally, it can also control insect infestations due to its ability to deprive the insects of the oxygen they need in order to survive.
Date Published: March 14, 2019