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Aflatoxin testing method removes need for organic solvents

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By Joe Whitworth+

25-Aug-2014
Last updated on 25-Aug-2014 at 13:11 GMT

Vicam unveils Afla-V AQUA aflatoxin testing system
Vicam unveils Afla-V AQUA aflatoxin testing system

Vicam has introduced a method for detecting aflatoxins in grains without organic solvents such as methanol.

The Afla-V AQUA will allow grain, feed and food companies that perform Vertu lateral flow reader rapid strip tests for aflatoxin to do the test with fewer steps.

Traditionally, a methanol/water mixture is used to extract the aflatoxins from grains before analysis; however, methanol is expensive, flammable and must be disposed of as a hazardous waste.

The firm, part of Waters Corporation, said it is especially desirable for large grain storage and processing operations, where large testing volumes create high hazmat disposal costs.

Eliminating chemical solvent

Patricia Jackson, market development manager, told FoodQualityNews.com that the main critical factor in the method being “green” was to eliminate the chemical solvent.

“It is a sustainable and eco-friendly product, the decision was led by customers who wanted this solution but the method is from our own internal R&D efforts led by Stephen Powers," she said.

“There are challenges in procuring methanol, such as the cost and storing it on site is a major challenge, especially for large volume customers and the majority of our customers do not work in lab environments.”

The Afla-V AQUA Strip Tests use Vicam’s monoclonal antibodies to detect and measure total aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1 and G2) at levels ranging from 2.5 ppb and to 50 ppb.

Afla-V AQUA utilizes a water-based, dilution-free extraction procedure that develops in five minutes.

Results are displayed on the digital screen and may also be printed or transferred to Excel for storage and used as a quality assurance tool.

Validation and plans

Dr Stephen Powers, R&D director for Vicam, told us that it is validated on corn, which will be expanded as many other grains and grain products are tested for aflatoxins.

“With mycotoxins you have specific requirements because there are permitted limits so you want a quantitative level of estimation," he said.

“We have a reader where intensity lines are generated on the strip and it is not compared by eye and the reader gives you the level of contamination.”

The firm said it couldn’t just use water as it would not be powerful enough or have the physical properties needed to bring the aflatoxin out.

Powers said the project was started a few months and the product was launched earlier this month.

“The major challenge was the change in solvent extract, with the sample if you apply it to the strip as a methanol – water solution it flows differently than an aqueous solution, so you need the right combination of reagents for it to flow through the lateral flow system.

“It was necessary to remove methanol and replace it with a powder and add water as the solvent.”

Powers said future focus will be on other mycotoxins and matrixes and USDA-GIPSA certification. 

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

EU Limits and Sample Types

Excellent questions, Thomas.

The European Commission (EC) regulations for human consumption range as low as 2 ppb of aflatoxin B1 for ready-to eat maize products. The EC regs for feed materials range from 5-20 ppb for aflatoxin B1 depending on the age, species and type of husbandry (i.e. limit for dairy cattle is 5 ppb because of concerns about aflatoxin M1 in milk). Therefore the test does not have the required sensitivity for all products for human consumption but covers the relevant range in feedstuffs very well.

We have not yet examined applicability to peanuts or additional food sample types. In addition to peanuts, what other sample types are of the most interest to your work?

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Posted by Patricia Jackson
03 September 2014 | 14h27

Meeting EU limits

This seems to be a great test. Can it be used for peanuts and other foods other than corn?

Does the 2.5ppb limit meet EU's standards?

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Posted by Thomas Egwang
30 August 2014 | 20h55