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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
JRC scientists - in close collaboration with the Italian Institute of Sciences of Food Production - evaluated the performance of an analytical method for the determination of multi-mycotoxins in maize and wheat by means of international proficiency testing.
Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by fungi and can contaminate a wide range of agricultural products. Although over 300 mycotoxins have been identified, only a few of them cause food-borne illnesses and are of major concern worldwide.
In Europe, harmonised maximum levels for mycotoxins in food products have been specified in Commission Regulation EC 1881/2006 and its amendments. It is therefore important to have effective and reliable analytical methods at hand to identify and determine mycotoxins for appropriate enforcement of the regulatory limits.
Multi-analyte methods have become most popular as several mycotoxins frequently co-occur in the same product.
Proficiency tests (PTs) are effective procedures for quality assurance and to verify the performance of analytical laboratories.
The JRC – hosting the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) – and the Italian Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA) have organised a number of PTs in the recent past. Results from these PTs (2011 – 2014) are suitable to evaluate not only the performance of participating laboratories but also to compare and evaluate the performance of the methods applied.
From these studies it can be concluded that the majority of laboratory participants in the PTs described above had the ability to provide acceptable results for the simultaneous analysis of several mycotoxins in maize and wheat. It could be noted that the laboratory performance was slightly better for wheat analysis. Analytical methods used by participating laboratories improved over time.
Read more in: A. De Girolamo et al.: "Performance evaluation of LC-MS/MS methods for multi-mycotoxin determination in maize and wheat by means of international proficiency testing", Trends in Anal. Chem. 86 (2017) 222-234, doi: 10.1016/j.trac.2016.11.005