We are doing science for policy
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.
Scientists at the EU reference laboratory (EU-RL) for mycotoxins, which is operated by the JRC Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements, developed a highly accurate method for the determination of aflatoxins in cereal-based baby food and maize.
This method allows the assignment of reference values to materials that are used in comparative testing studies organised by the EU-RL. Such studies help to ensure that official control of mycotoxin levels are carried out in a harmonised way in the EU member states and are appropriate to protect the well-being of consumers, in particular babies.
Aflatoxins, mycotoxins produced by certain moulds (Aspergillus), are known to be genotoxic and carcinogenic; therefore, exposure through food should be kept as low as possible. They may occur in foods, such as peanuts, maize, figs and other dried foods, and spices as a result of infestation by specific moulds. European legislation sets strict maximum levels for such toxins, and it is the official control laboratories in the EU Member States to make sure that food is in compliance.
The developed method is based on two-dimensional liquid chromatography in combination with mass spectrometry and uses an isotopically labelled standard. The validity of the method was demonstrated by comparing the obtained values to the mean values of the comparison study, which matched very well. Due to its high accuracy it will serve for reference purposes to which the results obtained by other methods can be compared, and for dispute resolution in case contradicting results are produced in two different laboratories.
Read more: Andreas Breidbach and Franz Ulberth, Two-dimensional heart-cut LC-LC improves accuracy of exact-matching double isotope dilution mass spectrometry measurements of aflatoxin B1 in cereal-based baby food, maize, and maize-based feed, Anal. Bioanal. Chem. (2014), doi:10.1007/s00216-014-8003-5