August 22, 2017

23/08/2017: Which mycotoxin testing solution is right for me?

by Philipp Gruber (DI), Product Manager Mycotoxins, Romer Labs, Austria

The food and feed industry now has more choice than ever when it comes to testing for the presence of mycotoxins in commodity raw materials and finished feed

But which test should you use in your situation? Here we explore some key factors to help your decision-making. For decades, taking samples and sending them away to an analytical service provider has been the most common method for determining the presence of mycotoxins.

Figure 1: Analytical Service
Image credit: Romer Labs

In recent years, on-site rapid test methods have become widely available, offering simplicity and ease-of-use to quickly detect mycotoxins on site. With more options to choose from, finding the right tool is not always simple.

On-site testing vs. analytical service
The first step is to decide whether to conduct the test yourself on-site such as in the field or at the production facility, or send the samples to an analytical service laboratory. That decision depends on three main considerations:

1) Required testing throughput For high volume or frequent testing (high throughput), it might be worth conducting on-site tests, as the costs per sample are generally lower. If you only perform occasional testing or have low throughput, sending your samples to an analytical service lab might be more convenient.

2) Acceptable time to results On-site rapid tests will deliver results within an hour. This makes rapid tests useful tools when decision time is short, including when deciding whether or not to accept a delivery when it arrives on site. From start to finish, third party analytical service result delivery takes on average one week.

3) Quality of results On-site testing can be categorised as a screening tool because it provides a quick indication as to the presence of one analyte per test. Reference methods available at an analytical service laboratory are much more robust, offering greater reliability on a larger number of analytes.

Rapid tests

The two most popular on-site methods are strip tests and ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) tests. The key differences are illustrated in Figure 1. Strip tests are designed to give results as soon as possible, though they can only process two samples at a time. They are widely used for testing agricultural raw commodities at reception points.

In combination with novel water extraction technologies that omit the use of hazardous organic solvents, such on site tests are an easy and safe solution for non-laboratory users. ELISA test kits can test up to 44 samples simultaneously. In general, ELISA is the option of choice when you have six or more samples: the price difference is quickly recuperated due to the need to buy fewer kits and it also saves time.

Figure 2: On-site testing
Image credit: Romer Labs

Analytical service testing
When sending samples to an analytical service lab you must decide which technology should be used. In addition to classic ELISA, reference methods like HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) and LC-MS/MS (liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) can be chosen. The key differences are illustrated in Figure 2.

Reference methods analyse your sample for multiple toxins in one go. For example, the LC-MS/MS multi-mycotoxin method offered by Romer Labs is capable of analysing up to 18 toxins at a time. The growing popularity of rapid tests for mycotoxins creates more choice for millers and farmers. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right mycotoxin detection tool for your situation.

On-site testing methods offer a number of advantages, namely speed, cost and ease of use. The reference methods available from an analytical service laboratory will provide greater precision for a larger number of analytes, delivering a more complete picture of any contamination.

Rapid tests are a good option for the screening of raw commodities. For finished feed, an analytical service or validated rapid test may be used. For an effective mycotoxin detection program, it may be worth considering a combination of tactics that best fit your requirements.

Visit the Romer Labs website, HERE.
Read the full article, HERE.

The Global Miller
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