Challenges for simultaneous analysis of masked trichothecene mycotoxins in cereals
JRC scientists investigated the suitability of immunoaffinity columns for the determination of masked (modified) mycotoxins, a class of food contaminants currently being discussed for EU regulation. The study focused on the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) and its metabolites which can frequently occur in cereals.
Masked (also called modified) mycotoxins have been recognised as important contributors to the toxicological hazard deriving from fungal spoilage of agricultural products. DON is the most frequently detected trichothecene (mycotoxin) in cereals and is occurring together with its derivatives in highest amounts compared to other mycotoxins. European legislation sets maximum limits for DON in a variety of agricultural products, while the Commission as well as Codex Alimentarius aim for and discuss a health based maximum limit for all derivatives of DON. It is therefore important to detect and quantify all forms of DON to not underestimate the toxic potential of a particular food or feed consignment.
Therefore, JRC scientists developed a new and simple analytical method (based on immobilised antibodies) that allows monitoring of DON and its metabolites in food and feed without any increment in work load and costs (compared to established methods). The feasibility of the new approach was demonstrated showing that manufacturers of immunoaffinity columns do not fully explore the potential of such products that are widely used for mycotoxins determination.
Furthermore, it seems that some manufacturers change the composition of their products without notice to the end user. Such changes appear not critical if used solely for the claimed purpose, but brings uncertainty to those chemists that explore new ways of using this technology.