The occurrence of ergot bodies (sclerotia of Claviceps purpurea) in cereals presents a high toxicity risk for animals and humans due to the alkaloid content. To reduce this risk, the European Commission fixed an ergot concentration limit of 0.1% in all feedstuffs containing unground cereals, and a limit of 0.05% in ‘intervention’ cereals destined for humans. This study sought to develop a procedure based on near infrared hyperspectral imaging and multivariate image analysis to detect and quantify ergot contamination in cereals. Hyperspectral images were collected using an NIR hyperspectral line scan combined with a conveyor belt. All images consisted of lines of 320 pixels that were acquired at 209 wavelength channels (1100–2400¿nm). To test the procedure, several wheat samples with different levels of ergot contamination were prepared. The results showed a correlation higher than 0.99 between the predicted values obtained using chemometric tools such as partial least squares discriminant analysis or support vector machine and the reference values. For a wheat sample with a level of ergot contamination as low as 0.01 %, it was possible to identify groups of pixels detected as ergot to conclude that the sample was contaminated. In addition, no false positives were obtained with non-contaminated samples. The limit of detection was found to be 145¿mg/kg and the limit of quantification 341¿mg/kg. The reproducibility tests of the measurements performed over several weeks showed that the results were always within the limits allowed. Additional studies were done to optimise the parameters in terms of number of samples analysed per unit of time or conveyor belt speed. It was shown that ergot can be detected using a speed of 1–100¿mm/s and that a sample of 250¿g can be analysed in 1¿min
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