The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is beginning its sampling and testing programme at 13 milling plants across the UK, to look for the presence of soya in wheat flour.

The sampling project came about after the National Association of British and Irish Millers (NABIM) approached the FSA with its own research from 170 different flour samples that found low traces of soya. 

NABIM was concerned that the presence of soya, typically at levels of less than 0.01%, could warrant a labelling change on the flour, warning consumers of the allergen.

While the FSA is confident that such low levels would have no effect on soya-intolerant people, it was keen to carry out its own testing to collect more data.

Alexander Waugh, director general of NABIM, said: “Assuming the FSA does not find anything radically different, we don’t think any precautionary labelling will be required on wheat flour.”

The FSA did not outline a time-frame during which the testing programme will be carried out, but said it was keen to get results as soon as possible.

In a statement, the agency said: “The testing programme is to gather further data on the presence and level of soya in wheat and other flours in order to verify our assessment of the risk to people with allergies and to ensure that consumers are being given accurate information about flour, and flour-based products.”

The crossover of soya and wheat occurs in transit, when equipment and transport used for soya is also used for wheat.