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Joint Statement on Farmland Clay Pigeon Shooting

Date Added: 29/04/2013

Joint statement by: AIC, Red Tractor (Crops and Sugar Beet Section), NFU, NFUS, SQC, SCOPA.

April 2013

High hydrocarbon levels in the UK rapeseed crop are a major problem and this is costing the
UK vegetable oil industry millions of pounds to deal with. All signatories to this statement
agree to encourage best practice in reducing contamination risk, particularly with clay
pigeons, to avoid this potential source of contamination.

Clay pigeons are made using pitch as a binder. Pitch contains very high levels of Polycyclic
Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are strictly regulated in EU food law. The EU limit for
the PAH commonly used as an indicator for total PAHs, is max 2ppb benz(a)pyrene (BaP).
One clay entering the crushing process containing 0.5g of BaP would result in BaP levels of
5,000ppb in the crude rapeseed oil product stream. The smallest fragment or particles of
clay will cause a major contamination incident.

The Red Tractor Farm Assurance Standards for combinable crops and Scottish Quality Crops
advise that clay pigeons should not be shot over a crop after 31 March or yellow bud stage,
whichever is later. Shooting clays over a standing rapeseed crop is a major source of
potential contamination and must be strictly controlled.

UK crushers have found very high PAH ‘spikes' in their production processes over a number
of seasons and investigations have clearly shown that the cause of these high levels of PAHs
were from clay pigeons shot over a standing crop of rapeseed. The cost of this
contamination to the UK crushing industry exceeds £1.5m this crop year and this continues
to rise. The supply chain cannot be expected to continue to bear this cost. It is vital that
farmers take all necessary measures to avoid potential contamination of their crop. This can
be achieved simply by following the industry guidelines and not shooting clays over a
standing crop after 31 March and transporting and storing clays well away from food crops.
This will be much less costly than the consequence of delivering a load that contaminates
the rapeseed oil during the extraction process. It is hoped that by following these guidelines
contamination incidents involving clay pigeons can be eliminated.


Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) is the general term for a class of organic
compounds, which cause food safety concerns as potential carcinogens.
Commission Regulation EU 835/2011, amending Regulation EC 1881/2006 as regards
maximum levels for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in foodstuffs, sets limits for oils and
fats of max 2ppb benz(a)pyrene and max 10ppb for the sum of benzo(a)pyrene,
benz(a)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene and chrysene.

This statement is issued jointly by: AIC, Red Tractor (Crops and Sugar Beet Section), NFU,


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