Case Study 2  Mouldy Malt

Merchant vessel carrying malt from Europe to South America had an issue with the water tight seal on the hold doors.  When it arrived in port and was to be unloaded the grain looked clumped together and some parts smelled mouldy. It was considered to be water damaged and emanated a strong fermenting odour.

Was the water ingress sufficient to cause a food safety issue?

Was any of the malt in usable for brewing?

What tests could be done to establish usability of the malt?

Maltdoctor acted for the shipping line insurers

The shipping line insurers contended that the malt was fit for use once the water-damaged part was removed. They had conventional brewing analysis carried out which showed nothing out of specification. The Brewer rejected the malt because of it having been wet or adjacent to wet malt.

The wetted malt was clearly unusable but the remainder that was available did seem suitable for brewing. Maltdoctor arranged for samples of the malt to be tested for mycotoxins produced by moulds which can grow in damp conditions: none were found. The brewing analysis of the malt was also confirmed as being acceptable. A pilot brew was odne at an external brewery and those beers also tested by an expert sensory panel.

In this case Maltdoctor provided counsel expert opinion that resulted in the case being settled out of court. Insurers and re-insurers had been haggling over this cargo for 9 years before Maltdoctor was asked to get involved. In the space of just 3 months the case was concluded with the shipping line in this case not being found liable for the loss of the entire cargo, just that which was wetted due to seawater ingress.

Loss avoided was $1M