Invasion of foods and feed by moulds under certain storage or environmental conditions (such as high moisture and/or specific temperatures) can lead to the development of highly toxic components or mycotoxins. There are many different types of mycotoxins, the most common and dangerous of which are aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1 and G2).
In more recent years other mycotoxins such as ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins and patulin have raised concern due to their growing presence in the human diet. Currently EC legislation exists for control of aflatoxins in nuts, spices, figs and maize and for ochratoxin A in cereals and dried vine fruits. Other mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol and fumonisins are currently under investigation.
With the increase in mycotoxin legislation there is a growing need for fast, simple and accurate methods for quantifying or screening mycotoxins, which are, not only capable of detecting the legislative levels but also of meeting the analytical criteria laid down by the European Commission.
R-Biopharm Rhône Ltd has changed routine mycotoxin testing by developing a range of simple and rapid test kits which allow mycotoxin legislative levels to be easily reached.
Some of the test formats available include immunoaffinity columns, which allow accurate, quantitative analysis of various mycotoxins in a wide range of complex food and feed commodities. The immunoaffinity columns can be used in conjunction with HPLC for fully quantitative results or with a simple UV light and light box for semi-quantitative, screening results.
Methods using immunoaffinity columns for analysis of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A at the legislative levels have been collaboratively tested in Europe resulting in AOAC approval. For small, busy laboratories equipment it is also possible to obtain quantitative results for different mycotoxins using ELISA's with a basic plate reader. Immunoaffinity columns and ELISAs are available for analysis of total aflatoxins, aflatoxin M1, ochratoxin A, zearalenone, fumonisins and deoxynivalenol.
For screening, RBR have also developed credit sized, membrane cards for qualitative detection of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A at a variety of levels.
The development of faster, accurate tests enables easier and more thorough monitoring of foods by the supplier. If such testing is used in conjunction with preventative measures at all stages in the production process; this will drastically reduce mycotoxin contamination and lower the risk to the consumer.
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R-Biopharm Rhône Ltd is based in Glasgow, UK. www.r-biopharmrhone.com