New Guidelines for the Carriage of Seed Cake in Containers published (No.2)

22 June 2020 No.1079

The carriage of Seed Cake cargoes continues to cause confusion and the potential for mis-declaration remains high with the consequent risk of fire on board container ships. Seed Cake is the term used for pulp, cake, pellets, expellers or other cargo where oil has been removed from oil-bearing seeds, cereals or commodities with similar properties, including all such types of seed meal. It is principally used as an ingredient in animal feeds.


Seed Cake is produced by removing oils and fats from plant material, either by mechanically crushing the seeds (known as expelling) or extracting the oil by the use of a solvent. Neither method removes all of the oil and it is the reactivity of the residual oil which gives rise to the hazardous properties of Seed Cake. The method of oil removal and the percentage of oil and moisture remaining determine which UN Number the Seed Cake will fall under in the IMDG Code but the physical form does not affect UN Number.


The presence of oil and moisture in Seed Cake cargoes can, through a combination of microbiological activity and oxidation, cause self-heating. Microbiological self-heating can raise the temperature of the cargo to a point where oxidation of the residual oil occurs. This oil oxidation can result in further self-heating occurring, which may raise the temperature high enough for the cargo to ignite spontaneously. Therefore, the higher the moisture and oil content the higher the risk of self-heating and spontaneous ignition.


Earlier this year, the International Group and CINS (the Cargo Incident Notification System) jointly published Guidelines for the carriage of Seed Cake in containers as we announced in Japan P&I News No.1055 dated 22 January 2020. An updated version of the Guidelines is now available and attached hereto. The new version of the Guidelines contains some minor changes to the text including an updated description of Seed Cake, some clarification of details following queries received from container ship operators and the properties and observations for each relevant UN number.


In addition to giving details of the issues arising from the carriage of Seed Cake in containers, the Guidelines also provide advice about container selection, packing and stowage on board ship.