What Types of Tests Do I Need to Be Compliant?
[Blog Post]
What Types of Tests Do I Need to Be Compliant?

What Types of Tests Do I Need to Be Compliant?

April 2, 2024

In the realm of food safety, mycotoxins present a significant challenge to manufacturers, processors, and regulatory bodies alike. These toxic compounds, produced by certain fungi under specific environmental conditions, can contaminate various food and feed products, posing serious health risks to consumers and livestock.

Due to their ubiquity and the hazards they pose, regulatory limits for accessible mycotoxin levels have been established in a variety of products, including grains, dairy, nuts, spices, coffee, cocoa and more.

To address this issue effectively, companies must adhere to stringent compliance standards and employ robust testing methods throughout their production processes.

Understanding Regulatory Requirements

Compliance with regulatory standards is paramount for any company operating in the food industry. Whether it’s internal guidelines, customer specifications, or export regulations, comprehensive understanding and adherence are essential.

In Europe, the regulations pertaining to mycotoxins are outlined in the COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 1881/2006. Similarly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides guidelines for mycotoxin control and monitoring.

For companies operating within the EU, familiarity with Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 is crucial. This regulation establishes maximum levels for various mycotoxins in food and feed products, with the goal of safeguarding human and animal safety and wellness. Likewise, the FDA regulations in the United States outline permissible levels of mycotoxins in food commodities. Accessing these regulations through official channels such as the EU Commission website or the FDA website is an essential step in staying compliant.

Tailoring Testing Methods to Specific Needs

Compliance testing methods must be carefully selected to meet the unique requirements of each situation. Whether it’s monitoring internal quality control, meeting customer specifications, or ensuring export compliance, the choice of testing methodology plays a pivotal role.

  • Internal Requirements: Many companies establish internal standards to maintain consistent quality across their operations. Rapid testing methods such as lateral flow strip tests and fluorometer-based assays are commonly employed for routine monitoring of incoming raw materials and during various stages of processing. These methods provide quick results, allowing for timely interventions if contamination is detected.

  • Customer Requirements: Meeting customer specifications often entails implementing on-site testing protocols at different points along the value chain. Companies may offer written guarantees to customers, assuring them that products meet predefined maximum levels for mycotoxin contamination. This involves a combination of rapid testing methods such as lateral flow assays and more sophisticated laboratory analyses using techniques like liquid chromatography (LC) or LC-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).

  • Export Compliance Verification: Prior to shipping products to international markets, companies must ensure compliance with the regulatory standards of the destination country. Laboratory methods such as fluorometer assays, LC, or LC-MS/MS are commonly employed for testing finished products due to their proven sensitivity and reliability. These methods often utilize AOAC validated protocols, widely recognized in the food and feed industry for their robustness. In addition, immunoaffinity columns may be used for sample cleanup to minimize matrix interferences and ensure consistency of results when using advanced analytical instrumentation.

“Staying compliant with testing regulations is so important,” says Lanny Smith, Global Sales Manager at Waters | VICAM. “We are fortunate to be able to offer the workflows from qualitative screening to full laboratory instrumentation including LC and LC-MS/MS. Being able to supply high quality mycotoxin detection tools enables our customers to meet internal quality and external compliance requirements, delivering confidence in finished product quality and better outcomes for their businesses.”

Compliant Compliance Testing

The simple fact is that in the complex landscape of food safety and regulatory compliance, mycotoxin testing continues to emerge as a critical component of quality assurance for companies across the globe. 

A quick search of recent FDA Warning Letters can tell you much of what you need to know about the importance of testing.

Robust quality control across the value chain will inevitably require screening for mycotoxins in our most at-risk agricultural commodities, processing intermediates and finished products.

A careful review of the regulatory requirements for your specific industry and commodity type can help you meet specific needs, safeguard consumer health, avoid recalls, and navigate the complexities of international trade successfully—all while reducing costs (if the most cost effective method of compliance is selected).

“Waters | VICAM offers comprehensive tools for quality assurance and compliance from field to laboratory,” Lanny says. “Our AOAC and USDA-FGIS certified methods provide added confidence and assurance that test results are accurate and can be trusted when making decisions around raw material intake or finished product release.”

To learn more about mycotoxin testing solutions offered by Waters | VICAM, contact us today.

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