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Australia Barley Exporter Says Japan Shipment Clean

An Australian barley exporter said on Thursday it had found no evidence that a 20,000 ton shipment to Japan contained excessive pesticides, after Japan cancelled the purchase.

A Japanese farm ministry official said on Wednesday that excessive pesticides had been found in an Australian barley shipment which arrived last month, adding that it was the first time Japan has cancelled a purchase of wheat or barley.

"It is the company's firm belief that the cargo is completely free of any chemical residue, and that the sample sent from Australia to Japan for testing prior to shipment may have become contaminated in transit," said Josh Roberts, grain pool senior manager marketing and trading at Co-operative Bulk Handling of Western Australia.

"Numerous tests of the cargo now in Japan, as well as repeated tests of the shipping samples and the original silo samples, have all demonstrated that the cargo is free of chemical residue," he said.

The chemicals, originally detected in a 3 kilogram pre-shipment sample, are not permitted in Australia for use on barley and are not used in the Western Australia supply chain, CBH said.

CBH was working with both Australian and Japanese authorities on the matter.

The shipment was from a tender held in February. Major Japanese trading company Mitsubishi Corp acted as agent to import the shipment.

Australia, the largest single barley exporter in the world, normally exports around 5 million tons of the grain a year, worth over A$1 billion. Japan and China are two main buyers.

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