General Analytical Procedures

Analysis of mycotoxins in foods and feeds requires trace analytical techniques because the mycotoxins are typically present in agricultural commodities at levels ranging from ng/g to fig/g. Mycotoxins vary greatly in their structural properties, and thus also their physical properties. Consequently, it is impossible to develop methods that are applicable to all mycotoxins. In addition, analytical difficul ties exist since mycotoxins are not evenly distributed in food, and food matrices contribute interferences to sample extracts.

The procedure used to estimate the concentration of mycotoxins in food and feed consists of three steps. First, a random sample is taken from the lot. Second, the entire test sample is ground in a mill or grinder, and a subsample is removed from the ground sample. Finally, mycotoxins in the subsample are extracted with solvent and quantified. An accurate and precise estimate of the true concentration of a mycotoxin in a food depends on all three parts of the analysis (17). Of the three steps, initial sampling is the most critical because it contributes the most to variability in the analytical result. The analytical aspects will usually contribute the least error while sample preparation will usually have an error in between the two (18).

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