JRC scientists have developed guidelines for the validation of screening methods for the detection of contaminants, such as mycotoxins, to be used in food control. Analysing many samples for the presence of e.g. contaminants or residues requires the use of reliable screening methods in order to check rapidly compliance with legislative limits. Even though there is the need for quick results, these need to be reliable as important decisions can be taken upon them.
In order to ensure a high level of food and feed safety, legal limits exist for quite different contaminants and residues. Efficient implementation of these limits requires the analysis of many samples, which is a significant challenge both for official control laboratories and industry. One of the key strategies to cope with this task is the application of so called screening methods, which are able to deliver a quick analytical result, often at relatively low costs. Samples with a "negative" outcome are considered as compliant with legal requirement, whilst "positive" samples need to be reanalysed by confirmatory methods, which in general are more expensive compared to screening tests.
When applying this approach, an important prerequisite is validation of the screening methods. Only then the user can be sure that these methods are fit for the intended purpose, which is the identification of potentially non-compliant samples. However, until recently validation guidelines for this specific application did not exist yet. By participating in various projects funded by the European Commission, the JRC contributed to the development of such guidelines. Furthermore, JRC scientists published a review article, presenting the principle of the validation guideline for screening methods and the application to real world example, which is on the detection of mycotoxins in cereals.
Read more: C. von Holst and J. Stroka, Performance criteria for rapid screening methods to detect mycotoxins, World Mycotoxin J. (2014) 7:439-447, doi:10.3920/WMJ2014.1710