Romer Labs English newsfeed of en_GB Tue, 16 Jul 2019 00:54:59 +0200 Tue, 16 Jul 2019 00:54:59 +0200 TYPO3 EXT:news news-1291 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 08:07:00 +0200 Spot On: How GMO-free is “GMO-free”? Decoding Global Regulations How GMO-free is "GMO-free"? Regions and countries often define "GMO" differently. A shipment of grain designated as "GMO-free" and cleared for entry in one country might be refused entry in another. Such variations in regulation have far-reaching consequences for producers and traders of food and feed looking to maximize efficiency.

So what do we mean when we say that something is "GMO-free"? It's a simple question that leads to complex answers with ramifications in production, traceability and labeling practices. In this issue of Spot On, our experts provide some tips on how to decode this shifting regulatory landscape.

In this issue of Spot On:

  • Examples of differing labeling laws
  • Product-based and process-based definitions of GMOs
  • 4 crucial questions for GMO testing
  • New labeling regulations in the USA

Enjoy this issue of Spot On.

Type Magazines Topics GMO
news-1290 Thu, 04 Jul 2019 10:33:46 +0200 5 Fundamentals of Allergen Management #2: Risk-Based Sampling An important and often overseen part of allergen analysis is the process of sampling. Allergens that make their way into a product by cross-contact can be considered contaminants. Yet unlike other “contaminants”, the distribution of the allergen contamination tends to be heterogeneous, a result of most cross-contact processes. Furthermore, allergens do not spread once they are in the product (as would be the case of microbial contaminants). The sampling strategy is therefore of great significance in allergen control. 

Type Articles Topics Food Allergens
news-1206 Thu, 04 Jul 2019 08:32:00 +0200 Indo Livestock 2019 - Jakarta (Indonesia) 14th Indonesia's no.1 Livestock, Feed, Dairy and Fisheries Industry Show 3 - 5 July | Surabaya (Indonesia) Romer Labs will be at the Indo Livestock 2019 Expo & Forum, held from July 3 - 5, 2019. This event is dedicated to the livestock, feed, dairy and fish industries and will provide professionals with the latest technological advances and trends. 

Join us for an exclusive presentation on 'Drug residues in fisheries and aquaculture consumption' on July 3, as we share insights on the global aquaculture sector and the tighter controls for drug residues in seafood products.

To learn more about the presentation and event, please visit

Event venue:
Grand City Convex, Surabaya, Indonesia
Show hours: 10am to 5pm
Booth no: AE 52

'Drug residues in fisheries and aquaculture consumption'
3pm - 3.45pm, at Crystal Room 3rd floor of Grand City Convex

Come and visit us at booth!

Type Events Topics Mycotoxins Food Allergens Food Pathogens Residues + Adulterants Microbiology
news-1020 Wed, 03 Jul 2019 15:05:00 +0200 RAFA 2019 - Prague The 9th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis November 5 -8 | Prague RAFA 2019 will provide an overview of contemporary trends in analytical and bioanalytical strategies in food quality and safety control. This bi-annual event gathers industry experts from all around the world to discuss challenges and innovative solutions in the industry.

Visit us at our booth and learn how we can make our decades of experience in food safety work for your business.

Here you can find more information about the event. 

Event Venue:
CPI Hotels, a.s. Clarion Congress Hotel Prague
Freyova 33, 190 00 Prague 9 – Vysocany
Czech Republic

Events Mycotoxins Food Allergens Residues + Adulterants
news-1232 Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:45:00 +0200 5th International Symposium on Gluten-Free Cereal Products and Beverages - Leuven (Belgium) Last week, Romer Labs had its debut appearance at the International Symposium on Gluten-Free Cereal Products and Beverages 2019 in Leuven, Belgium. 
The GF19 was entitled “Building products by knowledge” and aimed at providing a platform for scientists to present the latest in gluten-free research and to discuss relevant structure-function relationships. 

As Silver Sponsors, we participated with a stand, where interested event participants had the chance to come and talk to us about our allergen products and services.  

The participants were particularly interested in our fast, on-site methods, including lateral flow devices (LFDs), as quality management often requires a fast decision whether goods fulfill their defined quality criteria. To quickly analyze and draw these conclusions, these rapid test kits are an essential and efficient tool as they can be maintained on-site as well as in the lab and allow a rapid analysis of a wide range of food and environmental samples within only 11 minutes (including extraction), with everything you need included in the kit.

Want to know more about our AgraStrip range? Head over to our allergen products or contact us!


Type Events Topics Food Allergens
news-1288 Tue, 02 Jul 2019 09:08:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 46 – AFLA in Feed in China In the northern hemisphere, summer is finally here! But while you’re kicking back at the beach, don’t lose sight of what’s going on in the silo back home. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1286 Tue, 25 Jun 2019 10:00:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 45 - Ergot Alkaloids in Feed in Central Europe What do the Salem Witch Trials and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" have in common? Some surprising answers as Josh investigates ergots in Central Europe. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1285 Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:14:34 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 44 - T-2 and HT-2 in Oats in North America Christina delivers an important message about unregulated mycotoxins as she looks at T-2 and HT-2 toxins in North America. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1276 Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:01:00 +0200 BIOMIN World Mycotoxin Survey 2018 The latest edition of the annual survey, covering 18,424 agricultural commodity samples from 79 countries with over 81,900 analyses, highlights the main dangers from the most important mycotoxins in primary feedstuffs and their potential risk to livestock animal production. The results of the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey provide insight into the incidence of aflatoxins (Afla), zearalenone (ZEN), deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 toxin (T-2), fumonisins (FUM) and ochratoxin A (OTA) in the primary components used for feed. These include corn (maize), wheat, barley, rice, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, dried distillers grains (DDGS) and silage, among others.

Type Articles Topics Mycotoxins
news-1284 Wed, 12 Jun 2019 10:01:50 +0200 5 Fundamentals of Allergen Analysis #1: Allergen sources and allergen load Type Articles Topics Food Allergens news-1283 Tue, 11 Jun 2019 11:13:48 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 43 - OTA in East Asia Ochratoxin is regulated for a variety of foodstuffs and beverages, not just for grains and raw materials. Martina discusses its recent occurrence - or lack thereof - in Asia. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1278 Wed, 05 Jun 2019 10:43:37 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 42 - DON in Wheat in Central Europe Deoxynivalenol is one of the world's best characterized mycotoxins - and now we're finding it in Central Europe in samples of wheat. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1277 Fri, 31 May 2019 09:22:17 +0200 Mycotoxin Risk Assessment: Telling the Full Story The research is clear: producers of food and feed need to take the synergistic effects of mycotoxin co-occurrence into account. Yet how do we get a sample to spill all its secrets? As a method of multi-mycotoxin analysis, LC/MS-MS is already showing great promise. Type Articles Topics Mycotoxins news-1275 Tue, 28 May 2019 11:55:17 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 41 - OTA in Wheat in Austria Did you know that several different fungi can produce ochratoxin? Josh has a look at what it's been up to lately in samples of wheat in Austria. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1274 Mon, 27 May 2019 12:55:41 +0200 Spot On: That Little Sample Has a Big Story to Tell How do you get a sample of grain or feed to spill all its secrets? Every year, we look forward to sharing the results of the BIOMIN World Mycotoxin Survey, the industry leader in identifying patterns of mycotoxin occurrence. This issue contains the survey map highlighting occurrence and risk across the globe.
But this year, the survey results are pointing us in a new direction. According to our friends at BIOMIN, we are witnessing patterns of increasing co-occurrence of mycotoxins. The problem is that these patterns are seldom predictable and can often be synergistic, meaning that the effects of two or more mycotoxins acting together can be greater than the mere sum of their effects.
That's why we devote half of this issue to mycotoxin co-occurrence and what we can do to get a sample to tell its full story.  Here's a hint: LC/MS-MS is showing great promise as a method of multi-mycotoxin analysis. How does it work? Read the issue to find out.
Enjoy this issue of Spot On!

Type Magazines Topics Mycotoxins
news-1273 Thu, 23 May 2019 15:27:02 +0200 [Webinar Recording] Allergen Free? The Insider's Guide to Allergen Management in the Production Facility Food allergies are a growing global health concern. Their prevalence has been increasing in recent decades worldwide. For example, in Australia, prevalence levels have reached 10% among infants and 5% among young children. In this webinar, Jasmine Lacis-Lee of the Allergen Bureau and Martin Candia of Romer Labs provide an industry perspective both on managing food allergens in the production chain and on identifying preventative strategies to cope with the growing prevalence of food allergies. 

Watch and discover:

  • Global regulations on allergen management and product labelling
  • Allergen risk assessment
  • Sampling plans and strategies
  • Methods of analysis and applications to different processes
Videos Food Allergens
news-1272 Tue, 21 May 2019 09:00:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 40 - ZON in Concentrated Feed in Turkey You don't have to be as adorable as a puppy to deserve a meal free of mycotoxins. Christina investigates zearalenone levels in concentrated feed in Turkey. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1271 Tue, 14 May 2019 13:47:55 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 39 - AFLA in Feed in India For the first time, the Mycotoxin Minute visits India, where aflatoxins have been affecting samples of feed. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1269 Tue, 07 May 2019 13:10:02 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 38 – T-2 and HT-2 Toxins in Silage in the US With high-moisture fodders such as silage, it's all the more important to stay vigilant against mycotoxins. Martina gives us an update on T-2 and HT-2 in silage in the US. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1267 Tue, 30 Apr 2019 13:19:20 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 37 – ZON in Corn in East Asia The field mycotoxin zearalenone is making a slight impact on samples of corn in several countries in East Asia. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1265 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:06:57 +0200 ERBER Group once again among the top 300 employers in Austria For the third time in a row, the ERBER Group was selected among the best 300 employers in Austria. For the third time in a row, the ERBER Group was selected among the best 300 employers in Austria. In total, 1000 companies were rated. The ERBER Group with its subsidiaries BIOMIN und ROMER LABS occupies ninth place in the industry sub-ranking - as in the previous year. "On the 10-point rating scale, the average scores of the top 300 employers are very close to each other, and we are very pleased that only 1.43 points separate us from the first place in the overall ranking." says Birgit Leitner, Employer Brand Manager of ERBER Group. The business magazine trend, together with the market research institute Statista and the career platform kununu, has created the ranking of the most popular employers in Austria. For the study, thousands of employees were asked for their opinion on more than 1000 companies from 20 industries with at least 200 employees. In total, more than 200,000 reviews from different sources formed the basis for the ranking.
The ERBER Group is growing. Grow with us. Here you will find our open positions.

Type News Topics Mycotoxins Reference Materials Sampling Mills Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Residues + Adulterants Analytical Service Microbiology
news-1263 Tue, 16 Apr 2019 14:28:25 +0200 5 Targets to Test for in Your Production Environment: #5 Total Count Type Articles Topics Food Pathogens Microbiology news-1262 Tue, 16 Apr 2019 14:03:08 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 36 – OTA in Central Europe Martina checks up on ochratoxin A and what it's up to in corn samples in Central Europe. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1261 Tue, 09 Apr 2019 15:29:38 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 35 - T-2 and HT-2 Toxins in North America Christina takes us to North America, where T-2 and HT-2 toxins are putting in an underwhelming performance (thankfully). Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1253 Wed, 03 Apr 2019 10:17:00 +0200 Tools for Verification: Sanitizing the Processing Environment There is no higher imperative for those in the food industry than ensuring the delivery of safe products to customers; maintaining a clean and pathogen-free processing environment is a critical element in fulfilling this mission. Contamination from environmental pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, or cross-contamination from pathogens with zoonotic origin such as Salmonella can cause major disruptions, especially if recalls are necessary. Any contamination can have a severely negative impact on a company’s reputation. Food producers are confronted with what can be an intimidating series of choices in verifying an effective sanitation program. Here, we get back to basics with an overview of cleaners, sanitizers, disinfectants and neutralizers.

Articles Food Pathogens
news-1260 Mon, 01 Apr 2019 10:23:00 +0200 [WEBINAR] Ergot Alkaloids: From Witchcraft to Biotechnology Ergots alkaloids are secondary metabolites of certain fungi. Their production occurs in the sclerotia of the Claviceps species on infected cereal plants during cool, wet weather with rye being the main host. It is important to detect these mycotoxins, as ergot alkaloids can remain in stored grains and adversely impact both humans and animals.

How does ergotism impact humans and animals? What are current regulatory trends? What are recent relevant analytical developments?

Watch the video and learn more about:

  • Ergot alkaloids as an emerging mycotoxin
  • The impact of ergotism in the food chain
  • Recent developments and discoveries
  • Innovative technologies for the detection of ergot alkaloids
Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins
news-1204 Thu, 28 Mar 2019 13:35:00 +0100 VIV Asia 2019 - Bangkok (Thailand) Type Events news-1259 Tue, 26 Mar 2019 12:31:16 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 34 - DON in South Africa 85% of samples are testing positive for DON in South Africa - in this week's Mycotoxin Minute. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1257 Tue, 12 Mar 2019 08:51:52 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 33 - ZON in Central Europe Our old enemy Fusarium graminearum is up to his old tricks again, driving up zearalenone levels in Central Europe. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1256 Wed, 06 Mar 2019 17:00:00 +0100 [Video] Food and Feed Safety Starts with "no". Here at Romer Labs, we know that food and feed safety starts with "no". Watch the video to find out why. Videos Mycotoxins Reference Materials Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Analytical Service Microbiology news-1250 Wed, 06 Mar 2019 09:36:00 +0100 Spot On: Think It's Time to Verify Your Hygiene Program? When’s the last time you verified your hygiene program? In this issue of Spot On, we go back to basics and look at the cleaners, sanitizers, disinfectants and neutralizers that keep your food manufacturing facility both clean and productive. We also review the most common testing technologies available that help keep you in compliance with hygiene standards.

Enjoy this issue of Spot On!

Type Magazines Food Pathogens Microbiology
news-1254 Wed, 06 Mar 2019 09:35:00 +0100 Rapid Environmental Hygiene Testing Technologies: A Closer Look You have to meet your rigorous hygiene standards, and they in turn have to be verified. Stefan Widmann explains the most common types of environmental hygiene test in detail so that you can choose the right method for your operation. Commonly used environmental testing technologies break down into two general approaches: testing for residues and testing for microorganisms. Here, we investigate the different technologies within each approach, how they work, and their applicability and advantages.

Type Articles Topics Food Pathogens Microbiology
news-1255 Tue, 05 Mar 2019 09:00:35 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 32: DON in Total Mixed Ration in the US This week, Josh looks at DON-producing molds that are targeting total mixed ration in the United States. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1249 Wed, 27 Feb 2019 10:32:06 +0100 [Webinar] World Mycotoxin Report: Impact 2019 Molds that produce mycotoxins in grain and feed had a busy 2018. This year, animals and feed producers will begin to feel their impact. What were the mycotoxin hotspots of 2018? How will mycotoxins impact farm animals and feed producers in 2019? What are the most reliable testing methods you can use to measure mycotoxin contamination and assess risk? Watch the webinar and learn about:

  • The results of the BIOMIN World Mycotoxin Report for 2018
  • Upcoming mycotoxin threats to poultry, swine and ruminants worldwide
  • The dangers posed by the presence of multiple mycotoxins
  • The potential of multi-mycotoxin analysis
  • Innovative technologies for mycotoxin deactivation
Videos Mycotoxins
news-1245 Tue, 19 Feb 2019 12:03:58 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 31 – AFLA in Poultry Feed in China Chicks and adult chickens are often subject to different mycotoxin thresholds. Martina runs the numbers for aflatoxin in poultry feed based on samples we've gotten from China. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1243 Tue, 12 Feb 2019 07:58:22 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 30 – AFLA in Central Europe Christina is back to talk about some underwhelming results for aflatoxins in Central Europe. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1240 Tue, 05 Feb 2019 09:12:33 +0100 Mycotoxin Minute 29 - FUM in Feed in South and Central America Josh compares the 2018 occurrence of fumonisin in feed in South and Central America. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1239 Mon, 04 Feb 2019 14:55:40 +0100 5 Targets to Test for in Your Production Environment: #4 Quality indicator organisms Type Articles Food Pathogens Microbiology news-1235 Wed, 30 Jan 2019 10:13:00 +0100 Romer Labs® Analytical Laboratory in Singapore Earns GMP+ B11 Certification for Feed Safety Assurance The independent inspection and certifying company SGS has announced that the Romer Labs® analytical services laboratory in Singapore has received GMP+ B11 certification. As a GMP+ Registered Laboratory, it joins the lab in Tulln, Austria, which in September became the worldwide first laboratory to earn GMP+ B11 certification. This additional recognition from GMP+ is a further confirmation that Romer Labs® adheres to international standards and requirements for safe feed and food throughout the production and supply chain. 30 January 2019 – Romer Labs®, a leading provider of diagnostic solutions for the agricultural, food and feed industries, has announced that its ISO 17025-accredited and ISO 9001-certified service laboratory in Singapore has received GMP+ B11 certification for Feed Safety Assurance. In earning this selective certification, the Singapore lab follows the lab in Austria, which was the first in the world to be GMP+ B11-certified.

This certification, obtained for the analysis of Aflatoxin B1 as part of a multi-mycotoxin LC-MS/MS method, specifically guarantees that the analysis of feed materials, premixes and feed samples is performed in a manner that assures the reliability of its results.

“We are delighted to join our colleagues in Austria as a GMP+ Registered Laboratory,” said Yong Wee Liau, Managing Director of Romer Labs® Singapore. “The GMP+ B11 certification further confirms the excellence of our analytical services in mycotoxin detection and is a fine complement to the ISO certifications we already have.”

She continued: “An important component of the GMP+ scheme is the explicit commitment to continuous improvement. This is one way we fulfill our pledge to reliability, transparency and traceability in the feed production and supply chain.”

Romer Labs® currently operates four fully accredited service laboratories in Austria, the United Kingdom, Singapore and the United States. Beyond mycotoxins, Romer Labs® offers analytical services for a broad range of analytes, including GMOs and food allergens.

For inquiries, please contact:

Dalya Tay
Regional Senior Marketing Executive, Romer Labs® Singapore
Telephone: +65 6631 8018

About Romer Labs®

Romer Labs® is a leading global supplier of diagnostic solutions for food and feed safety. We offer a broad range of innovative tests and services covering mycotoxins, food pathogens, food allergens, gluten, GMO, veterinary drug residues, and other food contaminants. Furthermore, we operate four accredited, full-service laboratories on three continents.

Press Releases Mycotoxins
news-1234 Tue, 29 Jan 2019 10:07:19 +0100 Mycotoxin Minute 28 - DON in Silage in the USA Our 2018 retrospective continues with a look at DON in silage in the United States. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1231 Mon, 21 Jan 2019 17:22:16 +0100 Mycotoxin Minute 27 - DON in China Martina discusses a 99% contamination rate in China - and why it shouldn't worry us too much. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1229 Tue, 15 Jan 2019 09:00:22 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 26 – Trichothecenes in Southeast Asia Let's welcome product manager Christina Huber to the Mycotoxin Minute. In her first video, she gives us some good news about trichothecenes in southeast Asia. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1060 Tue, 08 Jan 2019 11:24:00 +0100 Catalog 2019 Check out the Romer Labs catalog with our products and services for 2019! News news-1228 Tue, 08 Jan 2019 09:59:50 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 25 – FUM in Southern Europe 2018 in review: Martina compares last year's occurrence of fumonisin in feed in southern Europe with results from 2017. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1227 Tue, 18 Dec 2018 11:35:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 24 - ZON in North America Josh takes a look back at the year in zearalenone occurrence in North America. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1225 Tue, 11 Dec 2018 09:33:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 23 - DON in Northern Europe We return to northern Europe to see how deoxynivalenol levels have developed over the last few months. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1221 Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:25:00 +0100 Romer Labs Opens R&D and Production Site in Tulln, Austria With the opening of a center for R&D and production in Tulln, Romer Labs® further cements its commitment to innovation and precision in diagnostic solutions for the food and feed industries. The new building unites the ISO 17025-accredited and GMP+ B11-certified analytical laboratory with a robust R&D and production organization devoted to solutions in mycotoxins, food pathogens, food allergens, gluten and more. 10 December 2018 – Romer Labs®, a leading provider of diagnostic solutions for the agricultural, food and feed industries, celebrated the opening of a new center for R&D and production in Tulln, Austria last Thursday. Representatives from business, research and public service gathered to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. With more than 4,000 m2, the facility also houses analytical services, quality control and technical support.

Since its founding in Washington, Missouri in 1982, Romer Labs® has grown to serve producers of food and feed around the world. Its 1999 acquisition by the ERBER Group laid the groundwork for an ambitious expansion course that has seen the company become a world leader in both rapid test kits and analytical services with four worldwide service labs, one of them now housed in the new facility in Tulln.

Erich Erber, Founder and Chairman of the ERBER Group Supervisory Board, opened the gathering with some words on the growth of the ERBER Group and the importance of the Tulln site: “We have decided to invest in Austria, sustainably and for the future, as ERBER Group. This attests to a growth trajectory that is clearly international and, at the same time, has an Austrian focus—the new Romer Labs® facility in Tulln is just one of many steps we will be taking over the next few years, and it truly demonstrates that we have ambitious goals on the market. It is a big step toward a future that continues to be successful for the entire ERBER Group.”

Jan Vanbrabant, Chairman of the ERBER Group Executive Board, agreed: “Sales at Romer Labs® have doubled in fewer than four years. Over the next 5 years, Romer Labs® will strive to double sales again and will make a valuable contribution to the entire group’s organic growth.”

“Now that we have research and production under the same roof, we can increase our agility considerably,” said Eva Wanzenböck, Managing Director, Romer Labs®. “This will enable us not only to respond faster to the demands of the marketplace but also to anticipate them.”

Dignitaries who addressed the gathering included the Provincial Minister for Economy, Tourism and Sport for Lower Austria Petra Bohuslav, Mayor of Tulln Peter Eisenschenk, Vice-President of the University of Life Sciences and Natural Resources (BOKU) Sabine Baumgartner, and Professor Rudolf Krska, head of the Department of Agrobiotechnology at BOKU.

Pictured above (left to right): Jan Vanbrabant, PhD (Chairman of the Executive Board ERBER Group), Dr. Eva Wanzenböck (Managing Director Romer Labs®), Ing. Erich Erber, Phd h.c. (Founder and Chairman of the ERBER Group Supervisory Board), Provincial Minister of Lower Austria Dr. Petra Bohuslav and Mayor of Tulln Mag. Peter Eisenschenk. Photo credit: Sebastian Phillipp.

For inquiries, please contact:

Joshua Davis
Communications Manager, Romer Labs
Telephone: +43 2782 803 0

About Romer Labs®

Romer Labs® is a leading global supplier of diagnostic solutions for food and feed safety. We offer a broad range of innovative tests and services covering mycotoxins, food pathogens, food allergens, gluten, GMO, veterinary drug residues, and other food contaminants. Furthermore, we operate four accredited, full-service laboratories on three continents.

Press Releases
news-1220 Tue, 04 Dec 2018 13:39:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 22 - FUM in concentrated feed in Turkey Fumonisins aren't regulated in Turkey. But that doesn't mean they're not dangerous. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1219 Tue, 27 Nov 2018 09:00:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 21 – AFLA in swine feed in China Aflatoxin can accumulate in body tissues, making it more and more dangerous to animals over time. Our analytical labs analyze samples of swine feed for this mycotoxin and deliver surprising results for China.Download ScatScat Video DownloadPorno Scatting In HD DownloadNew Porn Video Download In HDFetish Porn Video Download Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1164 Tue, 27 Nov 2018 08:10:00 +0100 Romer Labs® at Rapid Methods Europe 2018 in Amsterdam Romer Labs recently attended Rapid Methods Europe for the first time. The conference, which took place in Amsterdam November 5–7 and hosted 200 participants, is an annual gathering of experts dedicated to innovations and breakthroughs in rapid analysis and diagnostics across the agri-food, water, animal health and healthcare sectors.

At the Romer Labs booth, attendees took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about Romer Labs solutions for food safety and quality. Romer Labs was also represented in the program of speakers and presenters: Product Manager Christina Huber discussed the importance of antibodies, and Barbara Cvak spoke about strip tests in a changing market place.

For more information about the event, please visit: Opens external link in new window

Events Mycotoxins Food Allergens Food Pathogens
news-1218 Thu, 22 Nov 2018 11:24:00 +0100 5 Targets to Test for in Your Production Environment: #3 Salmonella Type Articles Topics Food Pathogens Microbiology news-1216 Tue, 20 Nov 2018 11:32:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 20 – AFLA in Oceania Our analytical labs are finding aflatoxin in more than half of all samples of corn gluten meal in Australia and other countries in the region. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1215 Tue, 13 Nov 2018 09:00:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 19 – DON in Austria DON concentrations in wheat samples from Austria are up compared to a year ago. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1214 Tue, 06 Nov 2018 14:19:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 18 – ZON in Thailand Zearalenone is known to lead to hormonal changes that can adversely impact livestock performance. So far this year, we’ve analyzed several samples for it in Thailand. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1213 Tue, 30 Oct 2018 12:21:00 +0100 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 17 – OTA in Southern Europe Ochratoxin is known to have immunosuppressive effects on animals. Here’s what they’ve been up to in southern Europe. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1212 Tue, 23 Oct 2018 09:00:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 16 – FUM in Central America Now, the Mycotoxin Minute is looking at mycotoxin occurrence in regions as well as individual countries. Here, Martina investigates fumonisin in Central America. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1209 Tue, 16 Oct 2018 09:00:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 15 – DON in Germany Several samples of wheat in Germany are testing above the legal limit at which grains can be used for food in the EU. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1208 Mon, 01 Oct 2018 15:36:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 14 – AFLA in the Philippines Several feed samples are testing positive for AFLA in the Phlippines. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1207 Mon, 01 Oct 2018 15:31:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 13 – DON in the US Over the last 6 months, we’ve tested nearly 2000 samples for DON in the US. Guess how many corn samples are testing positive. Type Videos Topics Mycotoxins news-1200 Mon, 01 Oct 2018 09:00:00 +0200 5 Targets to Test for in Your Production Environment: #2 Faecal Indicator Organisms Type Articles Food Pathogens Microbiology news-1203 Wed, 26 Sep 2018 16:11:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 12 – Ochratoxin in Turkey High levels of ochratoxin are popping up in feed samples in Turkey. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1201 Wed, 19 Sep 2018 08:22:00 +0200 Romer Labs® Analytical Laboratory Is First Worldwide to Earn GMP+ B11 Certification for Feed Safety Assurance An independent inspection and certifying company, SGS, has determined that the Romer Labs® analytical services laboratory in Tulln, Austria meets the criteria for GMP+ B11 certification. As a GMP+ Registered Laboratory, Romer Labs® adheres to international standards and requirements for safe feed throughout the production and supply chain. 19 September 2018 – Romer Labs®, a leading provider of diagnostic solutions for the agricultural, food and feed industries, has announced that its ISO 17025-accredited and ISO 9001-certified service laboratory in Austria is the worldwide first to receive GMP+ B11 Certification for Feed Safety Assurance.

This certification, obtained for the analysis of Aflatoxin B1 as part of a multi-mycotoxin LC-MS/MS method, specifically guarantees that the analysis of feed additives, feed materials, premixes and feed samples is performed in a manner that assures the reliability of its results.

“The GMP+ B11 certification is an important step for us,” said Helmut Rost, Laboratory Manager of Romer Labs® Diagnostic GmbH. “We have proven not only that we adhere to the criteria of the ISO certifications we already have, but also that we are committed to continual improvement of our analytical services.”

He continued: “While this GMP+ B11 certification emphasizes the quality of our services, we also take it as a welcome challenge to continually strive for excellence. It is not enough just to be accurate; we also aim for reliability, transparency and traceability in our work. The GMP+ B11 certification is part of the promise we make to our customers.”

Romer Labs® currently operates four fully accredited service laboratories in Austria, the United Kingdom, Singapore and the United States. Beyond mycotoxins, Romer Labs® offers analytical services for a broad range of analytes, including GMOs and food allergens.

For inquiries, please contact:

Joshua Davis
Communications Manager, Romer Labs® 
Telephone: +43 2782 803 0


About Romer Labs®

Romer Labs® is a leading global supplier of diagnostic solutions for food and feed safety. We offer a broad range of innovative tests and services covering mycotoxins, food pathogens, food allergens, gluten, GMO, veterinary drug residues, and other food contaminants. Furthermore, we operate four accredited, full-service laboratories on three continents.

Type Press Releases Topics Mycotoxins
news-1199 Tue, 18 Sep 2018 09:30:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 11 – FUM in feed samples in Ukraine Compared to last year, fumonisins are up significantly in Ukraine. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1197 Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:12:00 +0200 10 Steps to Validating and Verifying Allergen Cleaning Procedures That cleaning is a vital component of any allergen management program is beyond dispute. But how do food producers know whether their cleaning regimen is working? Paul Bagshaw of Holchem Laboratories guides us through the ins and outs of cleaning validation and verification. Food manufacturers and processors rely on a variety of differing policies and procedures to enforce allergen controls. These include personnel controls, such as a hand-washing procedure and the use of protective clothing and equipment (PPE), process controls such as segregated storage and color-coded equipment, production controls such as dedicated equipment and time segregation, and – most importantly – cleaning.

Cleaning regimens are subject to rigorous validation. Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) retailer approval schemes such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) state, “Where cleaning procedures are part of a defined prerequisite plan to control the risk of a specific hazard the cleaning and disinfection procedures and frequency shall be validated…” In simple terms, this means that the validation process should demonstrate that the cleaning procedure a site is using reduces the hazard – in this case, an allergen – to a level deemed to be acceptable.

The validation guidelines at Holchem Laboratories Ltd. have been developed in accordance with the principles of the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) Cleaning Validation subgroup1 and Campden BRI2, together with in-house best practices. The overarching principle can be summed up in this way: validation should be carried out under worst-case scenarios. Here, we take a look at the steps involved in setting up a validation program and then verifying that program.

Articles Food Allergens
news-1196 Mon, 17 Sep 2018 09:30:00 +0200 Detecting Allergens in Processed Foods Food producers are increasingly looking to food allergen analysis as a means of emphasizing greater transparency, traceability and integrity in the supply chain. While this growing awareness has extended to validation and verification of factory cleaning and investigation of recalls and incidents, producers are also investigating new ways to detect allergens in processed foods. Food allergen expert Adrian Rogers explores how incurred samples might show the way forward. Most of the food and drink we consume has been processed or modified in some way. This processing brings about many benefits in terms of food safety, preservation and taste. However, processing changes the characteristics of the ingredients used to make the food; of particular interest are the changes that allergenic proteins can undergo. There are many kinds of changes relevant to allergen detection: allergenic proteins can be subjected to heat-accelerated chemical reactions including Maillard reactions and other protein-carbohydrate interactions, protein aggregation with loss of solubility, shear effects on protein structure, emulsion formation, pH effects, and water activity during food production. Recent studies have shown that processing allergens can alter their allergenicity, changing how an allergic individual may react to them. If immunoassay-based food allergen detection methods rely on the use of antibodies to detect allergens present in food, it follows that the ability to detect them may be affected by processing.

Such processing effects must be taken into account when developing new analytical methods, either by improved extraction methods intended to increase the solubility of the aggregated proteins or by going back to basics and raising new sets of antibodies that specifically target processed allergens. 

Articles Food Allergens
news-1195 Wed, 12 Sep 2018 09:00:00 +0200 Spot On: New Challenges and Methods in Allergen Testing Even processed foods need to be correctly labeled for allergens. So how do you find allergens in processed foods?

In this issue of Spot On, we investigate new methods for testing processed foods and the potential of incurred reference materials.

We also take a look at the practical aspects of one of the most essential elements of allergen management programs: cleaning procedures

Enjoy this issue of Spot On!

Magazines Food Allergens
news-1194 Tue, 11 Sep 2018 08:10:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 10 – Fumonisins in Finished Feed in Brazil An unusually high percentage of finished feed samples in Brazil are testing positive for fumonisins. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1193 Wed, 05 Sep 2018 14:25:00 +0200 [Infographic] Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance Food allergies and food intolerance can look a lot alike. But while both can leave you feeling miserable, only a true allergic reaction can be life-threatening. Articles Food Allergens news-1190 Tue, 04 Sep 2018 08:03:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 9 – Masked Mycotoxins in China Martina unmasks the dastardly doings of DON derivatives in China. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1188 Tue, 28 Aug 2018 15:18:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 8 – Aflatoxins in Argentina Some good news for a change! The vast majority of samples of corn and wheat in Argentina are testing negative for aflatoxins. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1182 Tue, 21 Aug 2018 15:18:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 7 – Trichothecenes in Corn and Feed in Brazil The number of samples testing positive for mycotoxins in the trichothecenes family in Brazil in 2018 has jumped compared to last year. Learn more about what DON, T-2 and HT-2 and the others are up to in Brazil’s corn and feed. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1181 Tue, 14 Aug 2018 16:22:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 6 – Afla in South Korea Our analytical labs are finding aflatoxin in a significant number of samples of animal feed in South Korea. AFLA is a real health concern and can damage the liver in both animals and humans. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1176 Tue, 07 Aug 2018 11:30:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 5 – DON in Northern Europe Fusarium, the main producer of deoxynivalenol, grows well in the cool and damp. Which is spelling trouble in northern Europe. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1175 Tue, 31 Jul 2018 15:18:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 4 - Deoxynivalenol in the US Detectable amounts of deoxynivalenol are appearing in a majority of corn samples taken this year in the US. Of these, several have levels of concentration dangerous to livestock. Videos Mycotoxins news-1170 Thu, 26 Jul 2018 08:56:00 +0200 Cleaning Validation and the Role of Sampling in Your Production Environment Microbial cleaning validations should always include indicator organisms and important pathogens, such as Salmonella or Listeria spp. Why conduct a cleaning validation?

Keeping the food process environment clean is key to avoiding cross-contamination. National and international regulations require the food industry to ensure that foodstuffs placed on the market are safe for consumption and are under specifically defined thresholds for (if not free from) chemical, physical, biological and allergenic traces. In the European Union, for example, EC/178/2002 states that products may not be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption.

Cleaning validation plays a crucial role in quality control by demonstrating that a documented cleaning plan works as it is intended to work. Validations should be carried out on a regular basis and include, if necessary, a documented corrective action. Products, equipment, personnel, protective clothing and other items in the production process are subject to cleaning validation, though it is important to keep in mind that the validation should be based on the associated level of risk. Everything that could be a potential source of cross-contamination should be taken into consideration.

How do you know if it’s clean?

The first step for a proper cleaning validation is to determine how clean is clean enough. In other words, what are the acceptance criteria? These can be measured in cfu/ml (colony forming units per milliliter) or cfu/cm² for microorganisms and µg/cm² for chemicals or allergens. ATP test systems can also be used to check the surface for residues, but this will not work in all environments: for meat or fresh fruit production, ATP levels will be much higher than in a bakery. There is a simple reason for this: after a living cell is destroyed, the ATP degrades. For ATP tests, pass and fail limits of cleanliness should be determined by the facility and documented as to how they were determined.

Microbial cleaning validations should always include indicator organisms and important pathogens. For ready-to-eat products, for example, these may be Salmonella or Listeria spp., the acceptable limit of which is always at zero. Though there are several different methods on the market to monitor for pathogens, the gold standard is culturing, which relies on multiple enrichments and petri dishes. These, in turn, rely on a proper environmental sampling method.

How do you take samples in your process environment?

Generally, there are four ways to take samples from the process environment: swabs, sponges, direct methods (contact plates, dip-slides), and rinse water. Swabs are suited for gaps and corners while sponges are better suited to test larger surfaces. The use of a direct method such as a contact plate or a dip-slide does speed up the sampling procedure and reduce the requirements for other consumables (pipettes, petri dishes, dilution buffer etc.), but it drastically limits the sampling area (approx. 10-25 cm²). Testing rinse water has two advantages: there is no need for a special sampling device and it more accurately represents the sampling area. However, what is gained in scope is lost in precision, as with rinse water the exact location of the contamination cannot be determined.

A cleaning validation is most effective when tailored to a specific production environment. A variety of sampling and test methods may be required to cover all potential sources of contamination.



Articles Food Pathogens Microbiology
news-1169 Tue, 24 Jul 2018 09:35:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 3 - Fumonisins in Italy Fumonisins have been busy in Italy this year. Product Manager Martina Bellasio is busy hunting them down. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1167 Wed, 18 Jul 2018 14:00:00 +0200 5 Targets to Test for in Your Production Environment: #1 Listeria Testing the production environment helps food producers find and eliminate pathogens before they make their way into the final product. A part of any modern food safety program, environmental monitoring programs, or EMPs, allow producers to find growth niches for dangerous pathogens and are useful in giving early an early indication of any risk of contamination.

But what microorganisms should producers be looking for? In this series, we investigate five targets to test for in your production environment, beginning with Listeria and the pathogenic Listeria monocytogenes.

Articles Food Pathogens Microbiology
news-1166 Tue, 17 Jul 2018 14:27:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 2 - Fumonisins in Corn in China High concentrations of fumonisins in samples of raw corn taken in China are cause for concern. Product Manager Martina Bellasio explains why. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1162 Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:18:00 +0200 [Video] Mycotoxin Minute 1 - Chili Powder in Mexico Product Manager Martina Bellasio introduces the Romer Labs Mycotoxin Minute and discusses ochratoxin and aflatoxin in samples of chili powder taken in Mexico. Type Videos Mycotoxins news-1211 Wed, 04 Jul 2018 14:30:00 +0200 Romer Labs® Allergen Seminar in Brno, Czech Republic Romer Labs teamed up with Mendel University in Brno, Faculty of AgriSciences, and Dynex Technologies to hold a food allergen seminar, which took place in Brno on September 25. Top-notch speakers from across the allergen industry such as Petra Maňásková (Hamé s.r.o.), Ivana Polišenská (Agricultural Research Institute Kroměříž) and Richard Kordiovský (DYNEX Laboratories s.r.o.) provided their insight into issues surrounding food allergens. The 40 participants were also able to participate in a practical laboratory workshop session to broaden their knowledge of the latest techniques and the current Romer Labs product portfolio for ELISA and LFD testing.

Romer Labs was represented by Chiara Palladino (product manager), who talked about allergens and the difficulties arising from the lack of useful reference materials, as well as by Jiři Macura (sales manager) whose presentation introduced Romer Labs and its product offering in the microbiology sector. 

Type Events Topics Food Allergens
news-1165 Wed, 04 Jul 2018 11:18:00 +0200 Romer Labs® sponsored the Anaphylaxis Campaign Corporate Conference Romer Labs UK sponsored and participated in the recent Anaphylaxis conference, which took place in London on 18 September and attracted around 150 participants. The conference highlighted key issues in the area of allergens including allergen thresholds. Clinical case studies and regulation of food allergens post Brexit were central topics. Speakers included representatives from Food Integrity Consulting Ltd, Government Chemist Laboratory, Instinctif Partners, University College London and Hines Food Chain Management and Training Ltd.

Romer Labs prides itself on supporting such events and keeping up-to-date with the latest in allergen research, techniques and assessments.

For more information about the Anaphylaxis Campaign, please visit:

Type Events Food Allergens
news-1210 Wed, 04 Jul 2018 10:30:00 +0200 Romer Labs® Allergen Workshop On 11 September, 43 representatives from the industry joined Romer Labs for the Allergen Management Workshop at the National Motorcycle Conference Centre near Birmingham, UK. The event covered important topics such as cleaning validations and verifications, the reasons for allergen management as well as allergen analysis and risk assessment.

Romer Labs was supported by external speakers from the Anaphylaxis Campaign, R Ward Consultancy, Holchem Laboratories and the “Just Love Food” Company. 

Type Events Topics Food Allergens
news-1146 Tue, 22 May 2018 10:41:00 +0200 [Infographic] The 7 Sins of GMO Testing With the use of GM crops increasing around the world, the challenges facing the analysis industry are many. Here are 7 common errors when testing GMOs in your laboratory.

Articles GMO
news-1147 Tue, 15 May 2018 09:45:00 +0200 6 Common Myths about Food Allergen Testing Ask anyone with a food allergy and they will tell you the same thing: there’s not much that’s simple about a quick trip to the grocery store. They have to check every label on every product that goes into the basket to make sure that their food is free from allergens. Because there is no treatment for food allergies, there’s only one thing that works: completely avoiding the allergen or allergens in question. This makes it all the more crucial for food producers to conduct routine tests for potential allergen contamination in their products.

Yet this isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Food products can range widely from straight raw materials, such as cereals, to highly processed ready-to-eat products. Their composition, moreover, varies according to the amount of protein, fat, salt and other compounds present. Test methods are expected to analyze all food sample types for allergens with equally reliable results. This, however, is often far from achievable in reality.

With all the complexity surrounding food allergen testing, perhaps it’s not surprising that there are a lot of half-truths and myths out there. Here, the allergen experts at Romer Labs dispel six of the most common misconceptions about food allergen testing.

Articles Food Allergens
news-1136 Thu, 29 Mar 2018 13:55:00 +0200 Managing the Unknown? Mycotoxin Risk Assessment in Feed Production Traders and producers of raw materials and others in the feed industry now have a wide array of options and solutions at their disposal to measure mycotoxin contamination and assess the accompanying risk. How do they determine the methods that best fit their needs? For decades, taking samples and sending them to an analytical service provider was the chief – in some cases, only – method for determining the presence of mycotoxins. The advent of on-site rapid tests has disrupted this model, becoming widely available at less cost and greater simplicity and ease-of-use. The frequency and volume of testing, the business needs determining the acceptable time-to-result, and the degree of need for accredited results are all criteria to consider. These and other factors that influence testing decisions are broken down below.

On-site testing vs. analytical service

The first step in finding the right testing solution is to decide whether to conduct the test yourself on-site (e.g. in the field or at the storage or production facility), or to send the samples to an analytical service laboratory. This decision depends on three main considerations:

1) Required testing throughput

For frequent testing (high throughput), it might be worthwhile to conduct on-site tests, since costs are generally lower than those of analytical service labs. If you only perform occasional testing or have low throughput, sending your samples to a lab could be more convenient.

2) Acceptable time-to-result

On-site rapid tests will deliver results within a couple of minutes to an hour, depending on the technology being applied. This makes them a useful tool when decisions have to be made in a short amount of time, as in when deciding whether to accept a truck delivery. From start to finish, external analytical service results can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week.

3) Sensitivity

On-site testing can be categorized as a screening tool in that it quickly assesses the concentration of one analyte per test. Reference methods available at an analytical service laboratory are much more robust and allow testing at lower toxin levels for a larger number of analytes.

Rapid tests

The two most popular on-site methods are strip tests (LFDs, or lateral flow devices) and ELISA (enzyme- linked immunosorbent assay) tests. Strip tests are designed to show results as soon as possible, though they can process no more than two samples at a time. They are therefore often used at reception points in the supply chain of agricultural raw commodities. ELISA kits can test up to 44 samples simultaneously. In general, ELISA might be the better option when six or more samples are under analysis, lowering total testing time and cost per sample.

Articles Mycotoxins
news-1178 Thu, 29 Mar 2018 09:47:00 +0200 Spot On: The Tools You Need to Manage Mycotoxins Can you manage what you don't measure? In this issue of Spot On we will help you make some sense of the variety of mycotoxin detection tools so that you can find one that fits both your needs and budget. Also, we will take a close look at the latest BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey and analyze what some of its findings, such as mounting levels of mycotoxin fumonisin, mean to you.

Check out the latest issue of Spot On!

Magazines Mycotoxins
news-1141 Thu, 22 Mar 2018 16:30:00 +0100 ERBER Group is one of the best workplaces in Austria Getzersdorf - For the first time ERBER Group in Austria with its subsidiaries BIOMIN, ROMER LABS and BIO-FERM took part in the competition for the title "Austria's Best Workplaces" and immediately made it into the ranking: 4th place in category L (more than 250 employees). In addition to the good working atmosphere, the health promotion measures, the trust of the management in the workforce and their freedom to act, the integration of new employees and the comprehensive training offer were mentioned particularly positively. "Of course, we are especially pleased that ERBER Group managed to win an award in the competition for 'Austria's Best Workplaces' right from the start. The well-being of our employees is always at the center of our actions, which has been more than confirmed by our colleagues. "Heinz Flatnitzer, Director of the Executive Board, Human Resources Management & Corporate Communications. Because working for the ERBER Group means leaving foodprints to make the world a better place - in line with our corporate culture as: Pioneers, Partners, and Performers.

As part of the benchmark competition, Great Place to Work awarded a total of 44 out of 87 participating companies in four size categories with the title “Austria’s Best Workplaces”. The categories depend on the number of employees in Austria: Small (20-49), Medium (50-250), Large (251-500), X-Large (over 500). The evaluation of the enterprises takes place by means of an employee survey and a company audit.

news-1132 Tue, 13 Mar 2018 09:02:00 +0100 Food Allergen Testing - Facts vs. Fiction (6) Analysts all over the world need to ask themselves one essential question: Is my test result correct? In most cases, the answer is given by a reference method or a reference material, making it possible to evaluate the correctness of measurements. Food allergen testing poses a special challenge in this context as there is no reference method and so-called “allergen reference materials” are not globally accepted. But why is it so difficult to produce such a material?

This sixth and final issue of our series sheds some light on the common misconception that allergen reference materials are available.

Articles Food Allergens
news-1128 Tue, 13 Mar 2018 07:41:00 +0100 Food Allergen Testing - Facts vs. Fiction (1) As food allergens represent an ever-present risk for individuals with allergies, it is crucial for food producers to conduct routine tests for potential allergen contamination in their products. This sounds simpler than it often is. Food products can range widely from straight raw materials, such as cereals, to highly processed ready-to-eat products. Therefore, the composition of food products varies according to the amount of protein, fat, salt and other compounds present. Test methods are expected to analyze all food sample types for allergens with equally reliable results. This however is often far from achievable in reality.

In this series, we will shed some light on common misconceptions in allergen testing.

Articles Food Allergens
news-1098 Tue, 20 Feb 2018 09:03:00 +0100 Romer Labs Launches AOAC Performance Tested Certified Listeria monocytogenes Test Romer Labs® is expanding its RapidChek® testing solutions portfolio to include a system that detects Listeria monocytogenes, a serious food-borne pathogen often associated with contamination from food production processes. RapidChek® Listeria monocytogenes is AOAC-certified for use on environmental surfaces and for various ready-to-eat foods. Romer Labs®, a leading provider of diagnostic solutions for the agricultural, food and feed industries, is introducing a new pathogen testing system: RapidChek® Listeria monocytogenes. AOAC, the independent, third-party organization devoted to evaluating methodology for food microbiology, has certified in its Performance Tested MethodsSM program the testing system for detecting the pathogen on environmental surfaces and ready-to-eat foods, including hot dogs, frozen breaded chicken, frozen cooked shrimp, cured ham and ice cream.

L. monocytogenes is a significant human pathogen that can contaminate, among other foodstuffs, ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry. As with other Listeria species, L. monocytogenes is able to survive and thrive in cool, damp conditions where other bacteria cannot. An aggressive and verifiable sanitation program is therefore necessary to avoid cross-contamination of processing equipment in production plants.

Children and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to L. monocytogenes. As a result, the Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) at the USDA maintains a “zero-tolerance” policy for the pathogen in RTE meat and poultry products. The USDA, FDA, EFSA and other national and international regulatory bodies recommend and enforce hygienic measures that call for frequent testing of surfaces in the environment that come into contact with food ingredients as well as finished products.

RapidChek® Listeria monocytogenes is designed to meet this diagnostic need and provides results days faster than ISO, USDA and FDA methods. It combines a sensitive immuno-detection strip with a single proprietary enrichment media. After enrichment, highly sensitive and specific strips indicate the presence of L. monocytogenes in only 10 minutes.

“We are delighted that our AOAC-certified food pathogen detection tools now include a specific testing solution for Listeria monocytogenes,” said Romer Labs® R&D Director Kurt Brunner. “Food producers can leverage the same media they prepare for RapidChek® Listeria NextDay™ to test for L. monocytogenes; if the first test is positive, the same media can be used to deliver results for L. monocytogenes just one day later. Together, these two solutions form a comprehensive system for on-site Listeria detection that helps food producers discover and control the presence of this pathogen in their production facilities.”

He continued: “While the AOAC Performance TestedSM certification underscores the scientific soundness of the product, RapidChek® Listeria monocytogenes also has considerable business benefits, including unlimited scalability, ease-of-use with a one-step enrichment process, the need for minimal training, and a long shelf life at room temperature. We are proud to be bringing this new method to the food safety market.”

For inquiries, please contact:
Joshua Davis
Communications Manager
Romer Labs
Telephone: +43 2782 803 0

Press Releases Food Pathogens
news-1097 Mon, 19 Feb 2018 09:33:00 +0100 [Webinar] Mycotoxin Outlook 2018: The Rise of Fumonisins Experts from Romer Labs and BIOMIN joined forces in February 2018 to discuss mycotoxin measurement and management in light of the most recent results from the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey 2017. This survey, the longest running and most comprehensive in the industry, indicates that the threat to farm animals from fumonisins has risen or is set to rise in many places across the globe. Watch the webinar and learn about:

  • Upcoming mycotoxin threats to poultry, swine and ruminants worldwide
  • Relevant mycotoxin detection tools to ensure proper monitoring
  • The dangers posed by the presence of multiple mycotoxins
  • Innovative technologies for mycotoxin deactivation
Videos Mycotoxins
news-1071 Tue, 06 Feb 2018 13:00:00 +0100 How GM Plants Conquered the World Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are widely used in agriculture to give plants beneficial traits such as herbicide and pesticide resistance as well as quality traits that optimize growth and nutritional content. First trialed in the 1980s, GMO use is now widespread with over 185 million hectares of GM crops planted in 2016. What are GMOs?

Organisms that are genetically modified have undergone alterations to their genetic material in a process known as genetic engineering. These alterations result in the organism expressing a trait or traits that would not naturally occur in that organism. GMOs currently exist in bacteria, animals and plants, and are used in a wide range of applications including biological and medical research, the production of pharmaceuticals, and agriculture.

Why GMOs?

One of the most widely adopted uses of GMOs is in agriculturally important crops. In these plants, alterations to the genetic material are often accomplished by inserting DNA material from a different organism into the target organism. This results in the plant (and any seeds harvested from the plant) expressing novel traits, such as herbicide or insect resistance, or quality traits such as drought tolerance. For example, genetic modifications have been made so that plants are resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate or glufosinate, allowing a field to be sprayed with the herbicide to kill off weeds without harming the crop.
Genetic modification can also involve the transfer of a trait or traits that allow the plant to produce endotoxins originating from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, known as “Bt”. This confers insect resistance.
These endotoxin proteins have been used as spray-on insecticides since the 1920s. They target certain insect species while having no effect on non-target species such as humans, wildlife, and beneficial insects. When ingested, these proteins form pores in the midgut epithelium of the larvae of susceptible insect species (which feed on the crops, causing damage). This causes paralysis of the gut, and the affected insect stops feeding and succumbs to starvation. Non-target species have no receptors in the gut for the protein, and thus the protein has no effect on them. In addition, GMO plants may express quality traits that allow them to be tolerant to environmental conditions such as drought, or to improve their nutritional content.

GMO naming conventions

GMOs may be referred to in one of three ways. First, they may be identified by their event name, which is the name of the unique DNA recombination experiment that occurred in the laboratory in which one plant cell successfully incorporated a desired gene. That cell is subsequently used to regenerate whole plants and is the “foundation” of a GMO strain. For example, one event name for herbicide-tolerant corn is NK603.
Second, GMOs may also be identified by the unique protein they express. In the case of event NK603, the protein expressed is CP4 EPSPS. Thirdly, the GMO may be identified by the trade name under which it is sold commercially.

GM crops around the world – then and now

Current GMO production mainly comprises four crops: soybeans, maize, cotton, and rapeseed/canola. Global trade of these crops and their main derivatives is dominated by material of GMO origin. In addition, global planting of these four crops includes a very high percentage of biotech seed (78% of soybean, 64% of cottonseed, 33% of maize, and 24% of canola globally; ISAAA 2016). Within these crops, there are several GMO proteins currently important to the grain and seed trade. The cultivation of GM plants is increasing globally, as is the utilization of stacked traits - including two or more novel traits in the same plant.
The first field trials of GM plants began in the United States and France in 1986, with herbicide-resistant tobacco. The first country to allow commercialized GMO plants was China, which introduced a virus-resistant tobacco in 1992. The first GM crop approved for sale in the US was the FlavrSavr tomato in 1994. In that year, the European Union also approved its first GM plant for sale, which was a herbicide-tolerant tobacco. Commercialized cultivation of GM plants such as corn and cotton began in 1996.
In 2016, 11 different types of GM crops were commercially grown on 457 million acres (185 million hectares) in 26 different countries around the world.

Articles GMO
news-1137 Mon, 22 Jan 2018 12:32:00 +0100 2017 BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey Results The latest edition of the annual survey, covering 18,757 agricultural commodity samples from 72 countries with over 73,000 analyses, highlights the main dangers from the most important mycotoxins in primary feedstuffs and their potential risk to livestock animal production. The survey results provide an insight into the incidence of aflatoxins (Afla), zearalenone (ZEN), deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 toxin (T-2), fumonisins (FUM) and ochratoxin A (OTA) in the primary components used for feed, which include corn (maize), wheat, barley, rice, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, dried distillers grains (DDGS) and silage, among others.

Risk levels

Because of the powerful sensitivity of state-of-the-art detection tools, it is no longer sufficient to talk about the mere presence of mycotoxins; concentration levels must be considered. Consequently, the latest results feature a mycotoxin risk map based upon both the presence of mycotoxins and their potential harm to livestock depending on concentration levels associated with known health risks.

Figures below show mycotoxin occurrence data for each region as a percentage of all samples tested. The overall risk level for a particular region (indicated by color according to legend) is determined by the percentage of mycotoxins which exceed the risk threshold levels for livestock. The risk thresholds are based on worldwide practical experience in the field and in scientific trials that were conducted to reflect as closely as possible field situations and take into account the most sensitive species for each mycotoxin.
The average risk levels used as a basis do not preclude specific, severe instances of mycotoxin contamination in farms or fields locally, nor do they account for the negative impacts of multiple mycotoxin presence. The mycotoxin risk map relies upon single mycotoxin occurrence which may understate the threat posed by mycotoxins to animals given their known synergistic effects (the presence of multiple mycotoxins compounds the potential harm) and subclinical effects (even low levels of mycotoxin contamination can impair animal health and performance).

Articles Mycotoxins
news-1105 Mon, 08 Jan 2018 12:47:00 +0100 [Video] For us, 'leaving foodprints' means: Making a significant contribution to the feed and food industry. Videos Mycotoxins Reference Materials Sampling Mills Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Residues + Adulterants Analytical Service Microbiology news-1094 Tue, 02 Jan 2018 12:54:00 +0100 Nut-free cake producer relies on AgraStrip® and Romer Labs service to test on-site, fast and cost-effectively Entrepreneur Mike Woods founded the Just Love Food Company in 2009 in response to a problem that thousands of parents of children with nut allergies face: how to celebrate birthdays and other events with cakes that everyone, even those allergic to nuts, can enjoy. From its bakery in South Wales, the Just Love Food Company brings its line of 100% nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free cakes to leading supermarkets across the UK. The Challenge

To be successful, the Just Love Food Company needed to 

  • ensure that its products are 100% free of nuts 
  • expand its product line to gluten-free and dairy-free cakes 
  • minimize the need for external testing with an in-house solution 
  • get quick testing results to preserve the shelf life of its cakes

The Solution

With help from Romer Labs, Just Love Food Company 

  • implemented AgraStrip® test kits on-site to gain independent control of its testing 
  • externally validated its testing program 
  • scaled its testing to guarantee the safety of all ingredients and products in every batch

The Outcome 

Now Just Love Food Company can 

  • read results in 10 minutes on-site at a fraction of the cost of external testing 
  • benefit from a comprehensive allergen lab and ongoing technical support for CSS, ELISA validation and sample verification 
  • positively verify that all its products are 100% nut-free 
  • be confident enough in its processes to bring gluten-free and dairy-free cakes to market
Articles Food Allergens
news-1104 Thu, 28 Dec 2017 11:11:00 +0100 Cauliflower Mosaic Virus Genes that encode proteins (traits) need genetic elements called promotors in order to initiate the expression processes. Cauliflower Mosaic VirusA very effective promotor is known as 35S. This promotor is derived from a common plant virus, the cauliflower mosaic virus. It is common practice in DNA-based analysis to detect the 35S promotor instead of the encoding gene as many different genetic modifications use the same promotor.
The problem is that unmodified plants can be infected by the actual cauliflower mosaic virus. Such plants would be GMO-positive in a DNA-based analysis without ever having been transgenic. Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) infections are widespread among cruciferous plants, including canola. To be sure, screen for CaMV in the DNA analysis.

Source: Brunt et al. (1997): Plant Viruses Online: Descriptions and Lists from the VIDE Database. Retrieved from


Articles GMO
news-1070 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:21:00 +0100 How to Change the DNA of a Plant The transformation of plants can be accomplished in several ways. Two of the most common methods in agricultural crops are the use of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and biolistics (the “gene gun”). Using the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens provides a natural mechanism for transformation. The bacterium infects injured plant tissue and transfers its Ti plasmid to the plant’s chromosome. The Ti plasmid naturally contains genes that cause the plant tissues to overexpress plant hormones and nutrients for the bacteria, leading to plant tumors. The Ti plasmid may be modified to delete unwanted effects and add desirable traits, along with a selectable marker, which is then integrated into the plant’s chromosome during bacterial infection. However, not all species are susceptible to infection by this bacterium.

Over the course of the last decade, a second method of transformation has grown more popular than Agrobacterium: biolistics, also known as the “gene gun” method. In this method, plasmid DNA is coated onto small tungsten or gold beads. These micron-sized beads are then “shot” into the plant tissue. Some of the cells in the plant tissue may successfully take up the new DNA and integrate it into a chromosome. This method has proven effective for integrating DNA into the cell nucleus as well as into organelles such as chloroplasts, and works in almost all species researched. Other methods that have been used include microinjection and electroporation.

Articles GMO
news-1067 Fri, 01 Dec 2017 13:02:00 +0100 The 7 Sins of GMO Testing The use of genetically modified (GM) crops is increasing around the world. This presents many opportunities to the agricultural industry while it brings many challenges to the analysis industry. One Romer Labs expert shares his knowledge about testing GM crops so that you can avoid making common mistakes in your laboratory. 1. Identifying the wrong target

Do your homework: this is perhaps the most basic habit any scientist can learn. This is particularly necessary for genetically modified organism (GMO) testing, where doing your homework means knowing which events comprise your targets so that you can avoid false positives and erroneous results.
The problem relates to traits. A trait is a protein derived from a genetic modification which gives a special feature to the plant. Genetic modifications may be present in different combinations that produce similar—or entirely different—traits. Among the most popular elements of genetic modifications are promoters (p35S, FMV), terminators (NOSt), coding genes for certain useful traits (cp4 epsps, pat, bar, Cry1A, and others), and genes coding selective markers (NPTII, PMI).
Your technicians need to consider many different factors in defining the target for any GMO analysis. Make sure you consider the territory the product originates from as well as the possible events, whether these events are authorized in the region in question, and whether the plant of interest has commercially available biotech traits.
It can be tricky: sometimes the modification exists but is not authorized or planted in certain regions. However, it may be widely used in another region. In addition, there have been cases of unapproved events escaping containment and making their way to the field.

2. Choosing a faulty or insufficient method

It can be a risky decision: what should be the scope of any GMO screening? Laboratories can narrowly target a few genetic elements or proteins, or they can expand the scope to several events or proteins, which can be expensive. Finding the method that fits your needs and ensures accurate results is essential.
DNA-based methods are time-consuming and depend on high-quality DNA extraction and proper controls. Copy number variation and polyploidy can also cause problems in samples and should be taken into consideration when performing DNA analysis.
A look at some common plants will illustrate the point. In the case of soybeans, it is not enough to test only for promoters and terminators, because only a few of the 15 potential soybean events contain these common genetic elements. Maize is a different story altogether: broadly screening for these elements is almost completely sufficient, because most events in maize contain these elements.
While DNA-based methods are expensive and used only in analytical service labs, protein identification is relatively cheap and is useful in screening for common traits on-site. The majority of GM events has its own level of modified protein expression. Be careful when carrying out protein analysis of soybean and canola with the same lateral flow device (LFD) strips. Table 1 highlights different expression rates of CP4 EPSPS, making it necessary to use different LFD detection methods in soybean and canola. The right approach uses different tests and adjusts the sensitivity for different commodities to reach a similar level of detection.

Articles GMO
news-1083 Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:55:00 +0100 Third-Party Lab Reduces Material and Labor Costs by Implementing RapidChek® ESS Laboratory was founded in 1973. Its food and dairy testing division started in 1978. ESS is a privately held corporation and provides the benefit of unbiased, independent consulting and analyses from a highly trained technical staff. ESS provides both general microbiological services along with pathogen testing services for the food, dairy and pet food industries. The Challenge: 

ESS was faced with

  • annual equipment maintenance cost increases of 10%
  • machine downtime
  • declining productivity

The Solution:

With help from Romer Labs, ESS

  • implemented RapidChek® SELECT™ Salmonella and Listeria
  • scaled up to test a high volume of samples
  • avoided the need to invest in expensive equipment

The Outcome:

Now, ESS can

  • reduce media costs by 11%
  • trim material and labor costs by up to 25%
  • read results in 10 minutes, resulting in quicker turnarounds for customer samples
Articles Food Pathogens
news-1056 Mon, 23 Oct 2017 15:00:00 +0200 Food Allergen Testing - Facts vs. Fiction (5) Almost everyone working in the field of food allergen testing will have seen a single food sample produce remarkably different test results when it is analyzed with test kits from various manufacturers. And the analyst would of course like to know which of the results is correct. Unfortunately, as allergen testing lacks reference methods and materials, it is difficult to claim that one kit is more accurate than another.

This fifth part of our series explains why results from different test kits are not always comparable.

Articles Food Allergens
news-1052 Thu, 05 Oct 2017 13:42:00 +0200 [Video] Is your production environment contaminating your finished product? Pathogen testing is mandatory. You already test your incoming raw materials and finished products. But what about environmental monitoring? Is your production equipment a source of contamination? With RapidChek® from Romer Labs you will find it out without the need to invest in expensive equipment or intensive training for your staff.

>> Watch this video to find out more.

Videos Food Pathogens
news-1047 Mon, 02 Oct 2017 14:29:00 +0200 [Video] How Do You Ensure Your Product Is Truly Allergen Free? When switching production from products containing allergens, like nuts, to those that don’t, how do you ensure your product is truly allergen free? Yes, you thoroughly clean your production equipment, but how do you confirm even the smallest traces are gone? You could trust your cleaning procedure, start producing and test the final product; then, if allergens are detected, quarantine the whole batch.

It makes more sense to test for allergens earlier, hence the common industry practice of surface sampling. Check out this short explainer video to see how AgraStrip® lateral flow strips can substantially improve your allergen management workflow.

Videos Food Allergens
news-1158 Thu, 07 Sep 2017 12:08:00 +0200 Spot On: How GM Plants Conquered the World In this issue of Spot On, we discuss how the science of GMOs helps feed the world, how to change the DNA of a plant, and the 7 worst things you can do when conducting GMO testing. Also, have you ever heard of the cauliflower mosaic virus? Any idea about the most important GMO proteins?

For all this and more, check out the latest issue of Spot On!

Magazines GMO
news-1082 Tue, 05 Sep 2017 14:59:00 +0200 Job Clip - R&D Technician Julia talks about being a R&D Technician at Romer Labs. Videos Topics news-1072 Mon, 04 Sep 2017 12:57:00 +0200 Third-Party Lab Improves Productivity and Workflow by Implementing RapidChek® Endyne, Inc. is a full-service chemical and microbiological laboratory providing comprehensive environmental and product testing services through a network of laboratories in New York, New Hampshire and Vermont. The Challenge: 

Endyne was confronted with

  • ambiguous test results
  • labor-intensive methods
  • inefficient lab processes
  • weekend work driving up lab overhead 

The Solution:

With help from Romer Labs, Endyne

  • implemented RapidChek® SELECT™ Salmonella and Listeria
  • redesigned workflows and processes to reduce hands-on time and transfers
  • increased flexibility to run weekend samples

The Outcome:

Now, Endyne technicians can

  • hold down costs for technician overtime and total overhead
  • simplify and speed up workflow to accommodate weekend samples
  • better customize their service to meet their customers’ needs
Articles Food Pathogens
news-1018 Thu, 24 Aug 2017 09:05:00 +0200 [Video] Could mycotoxin testing be faster, simpler and more reliable? Harvest is a busy season. With trucks lining up to unload their crops, everything needs to move fast. Indispensable mycotoxin checks are common practice but don’t really make things faster. So, how can we check every truckload in the shortest possible time?

Sending samples to a service lab takes days for a result. Some in-house test methods like ELISA are often time consuming and require skilled operators. And yet, testing needs to be done.

That’s why we developed our AgraStrip® WATEX® lateral flow devices. Check out this short explainer video to see how AgraStrip® lateral flow strips can substantially improve your mycotoxin testing workflow.

Videos Mycotoxins
news-1005 Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:09:00 +0200 Certificates of analysis, safety data sheets, package inserts and more, now available online We know how important it is to have what you need when you need it. To make that possible for our product related documentation, you now have access to product details and can download resources like certificates of analysis, material safety data sheets and others directly from our website.

This will allow us not only to better serve you, our customers, but also to reduce the number of prints and paper we ship around the world with our products.

Check out our Customer Resources

news-1000 Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:24:00 +0200 Spot On: Emerging Mycotoxins – A Threat beyond Regulations? In this issue of Spot On we will provide the answer to this question and some more as we focus on other emerging mycotoxins such as ergot alkaloids and Alternaria toxins. Also, have you ever wondered how LC-MS/MS multi-mycotoxin methods are developed? We give you a glimpse on how we do it at Romer Labs.

Don't miss this exiting line-up of topics!

Enjoy your reading!

Magazines Mycotoxins Reference Materials
news-1055 Wed, 12 Jul 2017 12:55:00 +0200 Food Allergen Testing - Facts vs. Fiction (4) Food allergen testing sounds quite simple at first, but there are many difficulties associated with it, which can transform accurate analysis into a rather complex topic. In recent years, researchers focused on mass spectrometry for allergen detection. The scientific literature is full of promising reports on the performance and it is commonly believed that mass spectrometry can revolutionize food allergen testing.

This fourth part of our series sheds some light on the misconception that mass spectrometry will soon replace rapid tests as the future gold-standard of allergen testing.

Articles Food Allergens
news-993 Mon, 03 Jul 2017 10:28:00 +0200 Romer Labs acquires its distribution partner Coring and further strengthens its market presence in Germany Romer Labs has intensified its direct access to the German market for food and feed safety diagnostic solutions by acquiring its long-term distribution partner, Coring System Diagnostix GmbH. Getzersdorf / AT, July 3, 2017 – Romer Labs, a leading global supplier of diagnostic solutions for food and feed safety is further strengthening and expanding its market presence and distribution network in Germany by acquiring their long-term distribution partner, Coring.

Romer Labs Deutschland will continue to offer an extensive range of innovative testing solutions and services alongside those already part of the established Coring GmbH portfolio.

Romer Labs was founded in 1982 and is represented in more than 60 countries worldwide, either directly or through dedicated distributors. The company offers a broad range of innovative tests and services covering mycotoxins, food pathogens, food allergens, gluten, GMO, veterinary drug residues, and other food contaminants. Furthermore, it operates four accredited service laboratories in Austria, the UK, Singapore and the USA.

Coring was founded in 1987 and has a 30-year success story in the sales and distribution of diagnostic solutions.

”After the successful integration of the Transia GmbH business into Romer Labs earlier this year, it was a clear next step to also integrate the experience, skill and knowledge that our distribution partner Coring has. Our customers will now benefit from an extensive product portfolio, excellent customer service, an expanded distribution network and 60 years’ worth of experience in the field of food and feed safety,” says Thomas Weber, Managing Director of Romer Labs Deutschland.

In case of inquiries, please contact:
Thomas Weber
Romer Labs Deutschland GmbH
Schorbachstraße 9
DE - 35510 Butzbach
Telephone: +49 6033 7480 100

Press Releases
news-1002 Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:48:00 +0200 Alternaria toxins Alternaria toxins represent a possible health-endangering group of mycotoxins produced mainly by the Alternaria species. These are a widespread group of fungi contaminating mainly fruits and vegetables, but also other crop plants, during growth as well as storage. The most important mycotoxin-producing species is Alternaria alternata which occurs mainly on cereals and seeds but also on olives, various fruits and tomatoes. A vast number of Alternaria mycotoxins are known to occur naturally on infected crops, fruits and vegetables, including tenuazonic acid, alternariol, alternariol monomethyl ether, altenuene and altertoxin I. Structurally, these toxins are related to fumonisins.

Even though Alternaria toxins are normally associated with fruits and vegetables that are visibly infected by Alternaria rot, they have also been found in cereals, such as wheat, rye, sorghum, rice and even tobacco. Alternaria toxins have been shown to exhibit both acute and chronic effects and therefore represent a threat to animal and human health. The most studied mycotoxin in the group of toxins produced by the species Alternaria is tenuazonic acid. Its main function is the inhibition of protein synthesis and results in antitumor, antiviral and antibacterial activity. Most of the other Alternaria toxins show cytotoxic activity in mammals, some of them are mutagenic like the altertoxins, while others are toxic to the unborn like alternariol and alternariolmonomethyl ether.

Currently no guidelines or legislative limits are set for Alternaria toxins. So far it has been of general belief that their occurrence in food is very low and therefore the risk of human exposure is very limited. Nevertheless, data for their risk assessment is currently collected and methods for the detection of Alternaria toxins based on liquid chromatography – massspectrometry (LC-MS) are under development.

Articles Mycotoxins Reference Materials
news-935 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 18:41:00 +0200 Extracting mycotoxins with water – can that work? In order to make mycotoxins “available” for testing in an assay, they need to be extracted from ground samples. During the extraction process, mycotoxins encased in the grain kernel are transferred into a liquid, usually with the help of organic solvents that are hazardous substances, harmful to both the operator and the environment. How are rapid mycotoxin tests made safer and greener?

Perhaps the answer lies in water.

Why hasn’t water been used from the very beginning?

While fumonisin and deoxynivalenol are easily extracted using water, other mycotoxins like aflatoxins or zearalenone are not very water soluble.
This has led to the use of hazardous organic solvents like chloroform, acetonitrile and methanol in the extraction process, although laboratories are well aware of the downsides of using solvents, such as their high purchase and disposal costs, and issues associated with environment and operator safety.
To utilize water efficiently in an extraction process,some basics should first be understood.

The polarity of substances

The transfer of mycotoxins from grains into a liquid is not as easy as it seems. It depends foremost on the physical properties of the mycotoxin to be extracted, with polarity playing a major role in this context.
As the building blocks of molecules, atoms and how they are arranged can exhibit different electrical charges. Mycotoxins can exhibit positive charges on one side and negative charges on the other. In such cases,the molecule has electrical poles and is called polar.
As such, all substances including mycotoxins, are organized into three major groups:

1.) Polar substances like water

2.) Nonpolar substances like oil

3.) Amphiphilic substances like soap that have both polar and nonpolar properties

Polar molecules are also called “hydrophilic” fromthe Greek word “water loving”, as they are soluble in water. Their attraction to each other is based on their electrical charges. The negative pole of one molecule is electrostatically attracted to the positive pole of another molecule. This sticking to each other is the reason why they are miscible.
Salt and sugar are examples of solid polar substances. Sugar is perfectly soluble in liquids like coffee, but also attracts moisture from the air. For the same reason, salts are often used as desiccants. On the other hand, nonpolar molecules are called hydrophobic or “water fearing”. Their attraction to each other is a result of a joint repulsion of water and other polar substances. Amphiphilic molecules have both nonpolar and polar properties. Soap, for example, can attract greasy (nonpolar) stains from skin, hair or clothes and at the same time, bind to water (polar) to wash them off.

Articles Mycotoxins
news-1003 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:02:00 +0200 Ergot Alkaloids – an ancient story Ergot alkaloids are secondary metabolites usually produced by fungi belonging to the genus Claviceps. The most commonly occurring species producing ergot alkaloids is Claviceps purpurea. “Ergot” is a french word meaning “spur”, and was chosen as the name since grains, when infected, present so-called sclerotia and often resemble the spurs on the legs of a rooster.

Many different cereal plants and grasses, including rye, wheat and triticale among others, can become infected by these fungi during cool, wet weather conditions. These fungi then produce structures called sclerotia. These sclerotia contain different classes of ergot alkaloids, the most prominent being ergometrine, ergotamine, ergosine, ergocristine, ergocryptine and ergocornine together with their epimeric –inine forms. If grains containing sclerotia are processed by grinding into flour, high contamination levels of ergot alkaloids typically follow.

Currently, available data on ergot alkaloids show that the intake of contaminated food or feed can severely affect animals and humans. Ergot poisioning is called ergotism, a severe pathological syndrome. Symptoms include hallucinations, itchy and burning skin, nausea, dizziness and even abortion. Ergotism is one of the oldest known diseases caused by mycotoxins and was first described in the Middle Ages as so-called St. Anthony’s fire.

Furthermore, ergot alkaloids are not only known as mycotoxins. Ergotamine, for example, is one of the components of the psychoactive drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Ergot alkaloids are also used for medicinal purposes, including the treatment of migraines and the induction of birth process among others. Up to now, the amount of ergot alkaloids present in food and feed is not regulated, but regulations are under strong discussion in the European Union.

Currently, the most widely used detection method for ergot alkaloids is based on HPLCFLD (High Performance Liquid Chromatography with fluorescence detection) and can be performed using calibrants and a one-step cleanup provided by Romer Labs. An official CEN LC-MS/MS (liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry) method is currently under development.

Articles Mycotoxins Reference Materials
news-977 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:21:00 +0200 What do washing clothes and extracting mycotoxins have in common? When clothes are washed, oil droplets that contain dirt particles (a) need to be removed. By adding a detergent during the wash cycle, soap molecules mix with water and get into contact with the textile fabric (b). The “oil loving” (hydrophobic) ends of the soap molecules are attached to the oil/dirt while their water loving (hydrophilic) ends remain in the water. When many soap molecules are attached, the oil particle is fully enclosed and a vesicle forms that is soluble in water (c). The tumbling motion during the wash cycle beats those oil containing vesicles in the wash water and removes them from the textile fabric. Just as hydrophobic dirt particles are removed from textile fabric, hydrophobic mycotoxins are removed from grain particles. The shaking motion during extraction moves the encapsulated mycotoxin vesicles into the extraction liquid, making it accessible for detection.

Articles Mycotoxins
news-934 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:41:00 +0200 Is Accuracy the Price We’re Paying for Faster Results? Speed or accuracy? Do we have to choose? Applying the right technologies and paying attention to basic sampling guidelines can reduce overall time-to-result without sacrificing accuracy. When visiting a grain elevator facility, it is a common sight to see a number of trucks lining up in front of the grain reception point. During harvest season, up to 100 trucks can be lining up over any given day. The reception point has to make a quick decision on whether the trucks are carrying grain that falls below defined mycotoxin contamination limits and can therefore be admitted into the facility’s operations. In harvest years where contamination levels are high,every truck’s payload will be probed and analyzed for mycotoxins before admission into the facility. This has to be done quickly because having results available as soon as possible shortens the waiting time at the back of the queue significantly.
Quick assay turnaround is key but to what extent does it compromise accuracy? These are two important points we shall address next. To provide an answer, we shall first define the right method for such an application.

Every truck is probed and analyzed consecutively; hence a quick, easy-to-use, single sample test method is required. Lateral flow device (LFD) tests, also known as strip tests or dipsticks, are one of the fastest test methods available and a perfect fit for this scenario. Due to their simplicity, these tests can be performed by almost anyone with basic training and typically produce analytical results in just under ten minutes.
This enables quick decisions on whether a truck’s payload can be accepted into the grain elevator’s facility.

Articles Mycotoxins
news-984 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:55:00 +0200 Successful Romer Academy 2017 June 7-8, 2017, Getzersdorf and Tulln News Food Allergens news-987 Thu, 01 Jun 2017 11:13:00 +0200 Detection of allergens in processed foods: the next analytical challenge Those of us involved in the food allergen analytical community are constantly striving to improve allergen detection methods. One of the areas of focus in recent years has been to investigate how we can enhance the detection of allergens present in processed foods. The majority of the food and drink we consume has been processed or modified in some way. This processing brings about many benefits in terms of food safety, preservation and taste. Processing changes the characteristics of the ingredients used to make the food; of particular interest are the changes that can occur to allergenic proteins. Recent studies have shown that the processing of allergens can alter their allergenicity, changing how an allergic individual may react to them. Food allergen analysis is becoming increasingly important as a means to emphasise greater transparency, traceability and integrity in the supply chain. Analysis supports validation and verification of factory cleaning and investigation of recalls and incidents.

Immunoassay based food allergen detection methods rely on the use of antibodies to detect allergens present in food. It follows that such detection may be effected by processing. Allergenic proteins can be subject to heat-accelerated chemical reactions including Maillard reactions and other protein-carbohydrate interactions, protein aggregation with loss of solubility, shear effects on protein structure, emulsion formation, pH effects and water activity considerations during food production. Such processing effects must be taken into account when developing new analytical methods, either by improved extraction methods to try to increase the solubility of the aggregated proteins or by going back to basics and raising new sets of antibodies that specifically target processed allergens.

In order to evaluate these new allergen detection methods, incurred sample controls are needed. These are defined as samples in which a known amount of the food allergen has been incorporated during processing, mimicking as closely as possible the actual conditions under which the sample matrix would normally be manufactured. The real life sample would give the most accurate representation of the recovery and response of a particular method for that particular matrix.

Incurred sample controls and immunoassays that can reliably detect processed allergens are key to being able to fully support the food industry with their future analytical needs.

Articles Food Allergens
news-971 Tue, 30 May 2017 13:08:00 +0200 ERBER Group Invests and Expands in North America to Drive Further Growth with BIOMIN and ROMER Labs In further expanding its capabilities, the ERBER Group shows commitment to the North American market by confirming that a new hub will open in Kansas City in 2017. A new ERBER Group North American hub office will open in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area later this year, building out new, shared support functions for all ERBER Group divisions and enabling exciting expansion plans to unfold to drive further growth in this key market. 

The ERBER Group divisions includes international animal nutrition company, BIOMIN and leading diagnostic solution provider for the agricultural, food and feed industries, ROMER LABS.

“The growth and success that both BIOMIN and ROMER LABS continue to have serving customers over the years provided a clear logic for nurturing their strong potential going forward,” explained Jan Vanbrabant, Chairman of the Executive Board of ERBER Group. “We have an ambitious plan for North America, and ultimately it is our customers who will benefit,” he added.


Central U.S. hub

“We are excited to continue our long-term commitment to investing in the North American market. The central location will allow us to improve the infrastructure support across the group, and bring us closer to more of our customers,” stated Mr Vanbrabant.

The hub, modeled on the success of the ERBER Group structure in Asia Pacific and in Europe, will create new, shared support functions, including infrastructure and IT, for the ERBER Group divisions. Being situated together in one location will encourage and promote internal synergies both within and across the teams.

“Introducing a hub to North America embodies the ERBER Group vision and mission of delivering innovation on an international scale to our customers, while integrating efficiencies into our day-to-day lives,” added Mr Vanbrabant.


BIOMIN pursues growth

Over the past two years, BIOMIN has significantly expanded its support for customers in North America through the introduction of new products and services along with robust recruitment. In the United States alone, BIOMIN has added six key account managers, five technical support managers and a sales director swine.

“The expanded product and services portfolio along with greater technical support have enabled us to help customers achieve tangible improvements in their operations,” explained Simon Walley, President of BIOMIN North America. “We intend to replicate the success we’ve seen with clients in the poultry and swine sectors in the ruminants industry,” he added.


ROMER LABS continues success

Alongside its innovative diagnostic solutions offering, ROMER LABS operates an accredited full-service laboratory in the US and three others globally.

“Our customers will continue to receive the same high quality products and services they have come to appreciate,” commented Michael Prinster, Managing Director ROMER America. “There will be no interruption with the implementation of the new hub: we expect to seamlessly improve synergies within the group,” added Mr Prinster.

ROMER LABS will continue to operate facilities in Union, Missouri and Newark, Delaware.

Press Releases
news-1001 Thu, 18 May 2017 13:20:00 +0200 Emerging Mycotoxins – A Threat beyond Regulations? The number of detectable mycotoxins has increased in recent years. Spot On investigates what is being done to measure and monitor them. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring, secondary metabolites produced by various molds. These compounds are toxic to humans and animals. Toxigenic molds contaminate a wide range of crops and produce mycotoxins as a result of the infection of plant tissues in the field. Unfortunately, the formation of these toxins can continue even after harvest and the level of mycotoxins in grains continues to increase during storage. Contaminated crops represent a major health risk to humans and animals. The most prominent mycotoxin-producing field-fungi are represented by fungi of the species Fusarium and Aspergillus. Beyond these, there are over 300 different fungi that are known to produce over 400 different mycotoxins.
In recent years, more and more mycotoxins have been considered as relevant as they contribute to the risk posed to humans and animals. Risk assessment studies have been performed for various important mycotoxin groups including ergot alkaloids (see Opens external link in new windowarticle on ergot alkaloids), Alternaria toxins (see Opens external link in new windowarticle on Alternaria toxins) and modified or masked mycotoxins.

Modifying mycotoxins as plant defense

Typically, mycotoxins are explicitly produced by fungi and their parent structure is often modified by the fungus itself which releases a cocktail of structurally related compounds. During infection, these substances are then often further modified by the host plant of the fungus. The living plant might change the chemical structure of toxins and produce so-called masked mycotoxins.
The formation of these masked toxins is a major detoxification strategy of crops, as they are less toxic for the plant. Usually, a glucose molecule or a sulfate is involved in the conjugation and detoxification. Although these masked toxins do not further harm the plant, their toxicity to humans and animals might reemerge when the added masking molecule is cleaved in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals during digestion (Figure 1). In plant breeding, the increasing occurrence and production of some masked mycotoxins might be linked to novel resistant breeds. Deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside, for example, has been reportedly linked to resistance against Fusarium head blight. This means that Fusarium resistant plants have been proven to show higher deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside to deoxynivalenol ratios, but these are accompanied by lower levels of total deoxynivalenol and the modified form due to higher Fusarium resistance.

Articles Mycotoxins
news-953 Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:33:00 +0200 Testing for Aflatoxin M1 now faster and more accurate with the launch of new ELISA test kit Romer Labs launches AgraQuant® Aflatoxin M1 High Sensitivity. Aflatoxin M1 is the most strictly regulated mycotoxin worldwide. The new Romer Labs AgraQuant® Aflatoxin M1 ELISA is now more sensitive and accurate than ever before, allowing detection not only to meet but to exceed the requirements of all existing regulations.

News Mycotoxins
news-980 Tue, 14 Mar 2017 14:52:00 +0100 Food Allergen Testing - Facts vs. Fiction (2) Food allergens not only represent a serious health risk for individuals with allergies, they are also a topic of discussion when it comes to their analysis and proper labeling. Food allergen labeling intends to make the lives of people with allergies easier and safer, but it often causes confusion in the food industry as most laws fail to state the levels above which an allergen must be labeled. To avoid the problem of undeclared allergens in a food preparation, producers often use “may contain…” statements. However, there are more perspectives to consider.
This second part of our series sheds some light on allergen testing and labeling misconceptions.

Articles Food Allergens
news-922 Tue, 28 Feb 2017 06:41:00 +0100 Romer Labs switches gears in the German market with an extended product and service portfolio after the successful integration of Transia Romer Labs has successfully completed the integration of Transia GmbH, acquired in 2015, securing its direct access to the German market for food and feed safety. Getzersdorf, March 1, 2017 - Romer Labs, a leading global supplier of diagnostic solutions for food and feed safety, is establishing itself in the German market following the acquisition and successful integration of Transia GmbH.

The new entity, Romer Labs Deutschland, will offer an extensive range of innovative testing solutions and services in addition to the established product portfolio of the former Transia GmbH.

Romer Labs was founded in 1982 and is represented in more than 60 countries worldwide either direct or through dedicated distributors. The company offers a broad range of innovative tests and services covering mycotoxins, food pathogens, food allergens, gluten, GMO, veterinary drug residues, and other food contaminants. Furthermore, it operates four accredited service laboratories in Austria, the UK, Singapore and the USA.

Transia was founded in 1988 and has a history of almost thirty years in the field of food safety.

"With the successful integration of Transia into Romer Labs, our customers can now benefit from over 60 years’ worth of experience in the field of food and feed safety. The renaming of TRANSIA to Romer Labs Deutschland is an important step for our employees as well as for our business partners,” says Thomas Weber, Managing Director of Romer Labs Deutschland.

In case of inquiries please contact:

Thomas Weber
Romer Labs Deutschland GmbH
Schorbachstraße 9
DE - 35510 Butzbach
Telephone: +49 6033 7480 100

Press Releases
news-916 Thu, 09 Feb 2017 15:19:00 +0100 [Webinar] Mycotoxin On-Site Testing and Survey Results Watch the webinar with experts from Romer Labs and BIOMIN for an an in-depth discussion about how to successfully implement on-site mycotoxin monitoring, and recent trends in mycotoxin occurrence worldwide. Learn about the latest results of the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey, the longest-running and most comprehensive survey of its kind. You will discover:

  • How to implement rapid on-site mycotoxin monitoring
  • Overcoming some common on-site testing challenges
  • Current mycotoxin threats to poultry, swine and ruminants worldwide
  • Dangers posed by the presence of multiple mycotoxins
Videos Mycotoxins
news-1107 Tue, 03 Jan 2017 16:00:00 +0100 Spot On: Is Accuracy the Price We're Paying for Faster Results? Speed or accuracy? Do we have to choose? Applying the right technologies and paying attention to basic sampling guidelines can reduce overall time-to-result without sacrificing accuracy. In this issue of Spot On, we address the time vs. accuracy dilemma by looking into point-of-care testing at grain reception points. Furthermore we explore how mycotoxins can be effectively and safely extracted using water.

Don't miss this exiting line-up of topics!

Enjoy your reading!

Magazines Mycotoxins
news-900 Fri, 09 Dec 2016 08:47:00 +0100 Job clip - Managing Director Europe Klaus talks about being a Managing Director at Romer Labs. Videos Mycotoxins Reference Materials Sampling Mills Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Residues + Adulterants Analytical Service Microbiology news-899 Tue, 06 Dec 2016 08:39:00 +0100 Job clip - Sales Manager Annette talks about being a Sales Manager at Romer Labs. Videos Mycotoxins Reference Materials Sampling Mills Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Residues + Adulterants Analytical Service Microbiology news-895 Thu, 17 Nov 2016 13:02:00 +0100 [Infographic] The 8 Sources of GMO Contamination How can we assure that non-GMO is really non-GMO? Prevention goes well beyond planting non-GMO seeds as contamination can occur at 8 major points within the food and feed supply chain. The infographic below will shed some light on these.


Articles GMO
news-890 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 12:49:00 +0200 Romer Labs launches water-based fumonisins test kit Romer Labs expands its recently launched AgraStrip® WATEX® product line with the introduction of AgraStrip® Total FUM WATEX® - a water-based fumonisins test kit. AgraStrip® WATEX® test kits are now available for aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2), deoxynivalenol, zerealenone and fumonisins (B1, B2, B3) and provide a fast, simple and eco-friendly solution for on-site mycotoxin testing. Tests for ochratoxin A are in the final stages of development.

“The test kits are optimized to extract mycotoxins using distilled water in combination with an extraction buffer. That and the fact that the same extract can actually be used to test for multiple mycotoxins, make AgraStrip® WATEX® the product of choice for simple, fast and eco-friendly mycotoxin detection.” says Dr. Kurt Brunner, R&D Director at Romer Labs.

Accuracy and robustness have been once again confirmed by the recent GIPSA approval for AgraStrip® ZON WATEX®, the product becoming the first and so far only water-based zerealenone test kit to successfully pass the GIPSA performance test.

AgraStrip® WATEX® test kits are quantitative tests. Used with the AgraVision® reader, these test kits provide objective results and secure a consistent result documentation.

All test kits come with Whirl-Pak® bags that contain integrated filter membranes. As such, there is no longer any need for additional extract clarification equipment like centrifuges or filters.

The incubator that controls the ambient test temperature and the dust- and dirt-resistant AgraVision® reader make the AgraStrip® test system very robust and well suited for on-site mycotoxin testing.

For more information please visit:

News Press Releases Mycotoxins GMO
news-889 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:28:00 +0200 [Interview] Driving innovation in food safety around the world - Michael Prinster Michael Prinster is the CEO of Romer Labs in Newark, Delaware and spoke with citybizlist publisher Edwin Warfield about Romer Labs and innovation in food safety around the world. Videos news-893 Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:32:00 +0200 [Webinar] Allergen testing and risk management within food manufacturing Managing allergens remains a substantial task that is of utmost importance to ensure consumer trust is maintained. In this webinar, hosted by New Food, Adrian Rogers from Romer Labs speaks about different approaches for an effective allergen management - listen to his part starting at 50:30 min. Allergens are a key topic, which affect food and beverage manufacturing all the way to the consumer. A food recall is serious enough, but if allergens are involved it makes it that bit more severe. For this and many other reasons, managing allergens remains a substantial task that is of utmost importance to ensure consumer trust is maintained.

Topics covered include:

  • What an allergic reaction is and its impact on the food allergenic consumer.
  • Current Reliability of Allergen testing – featuring the pros and cons of current technologies, future development and potential new novel technologies;
  • Current legislation and its limitations – The role of food allergen risk assessment/management in the food industry.


  • Bert Popping, Chief Scientific Officer - Corporate Food Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Mérieux NutriSciences


  • Adrian Rogers, Senior Research Scientist, Romer Labs UK (his part starts at 50:30 min)
  • Professor Clare Mills, Professor of Molecular Allergology, University of Manchester
  • Rene Crevel, Science Leader - Allergy & Immunology, Unilever
  • Ashley Sage, Senior Manager - Market & Business Development EMEAI, SCIEX

watch now


News Food Allergens
news-887 Tue, 06 Sep 2016 14:28:00 +0200 Spot On: Preventing False-Positive Results in Pathogen Testing Costly and tedious to follow up on, false-positive results in pathogen detection can nonetheless be minimized. In this issue of Spot On magazine we will have a closer look at phages and the way these can prevent a "goldfish turning into a shark".

But that's not all! In a subsequent article, Dr. Simon Shane shares his views on how rapid methods can be implemented as on-site tools for pathogen monitoring. And in yet another article, we are putting a lid on 8 myths surrounding pathogen detection.

Don't miss this exiting line-up of topics!

Magazines Food Pathogens
news-886 Wed, 31 Aug 2016 13:53:00 +0200 Romer Labs launches extended line of water-based mycotoxin test kits Do you care for speed, simplicity and reliability in mycotoxin testing? If yes, you might want to have a closer look at AgraStrip® WATEX - an extended line of water-based mycotoxin test kits that enable the testing for multiple mycotoxins from the same sample extract. Romer Labs expands its already established mycotoxin testing product portfolio with the launch of AgraStrip® WATEX - an extended line of water-based mycotoxin test kits that enable the testing for multiple mycotoxins from the same sample extract.

AgraStrip® WATEX test kits are available for aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2), deoxynivalenol and zerealenone and provide a fast, simple and eco-friendly solution for on-site mycotoxin testing. Tests for total fumonisins and ochratoxin A are in the final stages of development.

“The test kits are optimized to extract mycotoxins using distilled water in combination with an extraction buffer. That and the fact that the same extract can actually be used to test for multiple mycotoxins make AgraStrip® WATEX the product of choice for simple, fast and eco-friendly mycotoxin detection.” says Dr. Kurt Brunner, R&D Director at Romer Labs.

AgraStrip® WATEX test kits are quantitative tests. Used with the AgraVision® reader, these test kits provide objective results and secure a consistent result documentation.

All test kits come with Whirl-Pak® bags that contain integrated filter membranes. As such, there is no longer any need for additional extract clarification equipment like centrifuges or filters.

The incubator that controls the ambient test temperature and the dust- and dirt-resistant AgraVision® reader make the AgraStrip® test system very robust and well suited for on-site mycotoxin testing.

News Press Releases Mycotoxins GMO
news-861 Mon, 22 Aug 2016 13:05:00 +0200 Video RapidChek® Listeria Test Comb Procedure The RapidChek® Listeria Comb System offers high throughput advantages as it speeds up the whole testing procedure. Videos Food Pathogens news-884 Thu, 11 Aug 2016 15:07:00 +0200 8 Myths of Pathogen Testing What stands in the way of an effective pathogen testing program for your company? Spot On puts a lid on the myths surrounding pathogen detection in food products and identifies some common gaps in testing procedures.
Myth 1

Environmental pathogen testing isn’t improving my food safety program

Most regulations for pathogens require end-product testing before a food production lot can be safely released for distribution and retail. However, there are several challenges associated with the testing of end products.

Firstly, variables such as background microflora, inhibitory characteristics, pH level and salt concentration make pathogen detection difficult. Secondly, sampling methods and sample heterogeneity can lead to inaccuracies, especially if levels of contamination are very low. How can food producers be confident that the number of samples tested is sufficient to ensure that the lot is entirely free of dangerous pathogens? Environmental testing has proven to be a very useful tool in many food safety programs and adapted as part of preventive controls under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSDA). Environmental monitoring programs (or EMPs) allow a food producer to find growth niches in production areas and take action to eliminate any risk associated with food contamination. Areas with a high risk of pathogen contamination should be sampled, as the purpose of environmental testing is to find positives. The goal of monitoring is to eradicate potential pathogens from the facility and production line before actual contamination takes place, and give food producers an early indication of any contamination risk/problem.

Myth 2

In-house pathogen testing requires substantial investments

Service labs often tell customers that it is too expensive and laborious to test for food pathogens in their own facility. That might be true if standard procedures (FDA BAM, ISO) are used, as these generally require a lot of hands-on time. Other methods such as ELISA and real-time PCR require expensive equipment. In fact, the only equipment you need for in-house tests are an incubator for the enrichment phase and a scale to weigh samples. An autoclave is optional, and only if you wish to sterilize your own media or for waste disposal. There may also be a need for a separate room for enrichment and testing. When using lateral flow strips, there is no need for any extra equipment to interpret the results and therefore, no substantial investment is necessary.

Myth 3

Pathogen testing requires well-trained staff

Rapid methods for pathogens have been streamlined from the days when only highly trained microbiologists could administer such tests, along with countless tubes, plates and a discerning eye. A variety of skill sets are still required, depending on the method but many test kits can be run effectively by trained staff.

Not all test methods require highly educated staff. In many companies, lab staff may have been transferred from the production plant and may not have a scientific degree. Test methods should therefore be simple and robust, with minimal steps to help streamline workflow in the lab and minimize the chance of errors.

A lab must also be able to demonstrate that their staff have been trained in the prevailing test method. Some companies also participate in proficiency test programs to ensure that their lab staff can work independently to obtain accurate test results.

Myth 4

Lab safety requirements deter small companies from conducting their own tests

Food pathogens in the so-called risk group 2, such as Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli O157, can be handled in rooms with some minor adjustments. Pathogens in this risk group are not considered hazardous to laboratory workers and the community in general.

According to the EN 12128 (European Standard), Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Biosafety Manual, such rooms should be marked with the biohazard symbol and have access restricted. Only those working with the pathogens should have access to this lab room.

The surfaces in the room need to be resistant to chemicals and therefore also to disinfectants. These lab safety requirements can be easily managed by small food producers.

Myth 5

I cannot dispose of contaminated test material

Yes you can. Here are three options for safe disposal:

1. Use an autoclave and set the temperature at 121°C for at least 20 minutes. The material can now be safely disposed of as residual waste.
2. Use a microwave disinfection system. The material can now be safely disposed of as residual waste.
3. Delegate a waste company for that task. They will order special containers to collect the contaminated waste and discard it for you.

Articles Food Pathogens
news-883 Wed, 10 Aug 2016 14:30:00 +0200 Rapid Screening System Contributes to Reduction of U.S. Egg-borne SE While total biosecurity programs for the entire layer and egg value chain are crucial for the control of Salmonella Enteritidis, highly sensitive and specific lateral flow immunoassays can drastically reduce the costs associated with compliance through highly accurate screening results. Egg-borne Salmonella Enteritidis* (SE) infection has been drastically reduced in the U.S. commercial egg industry. Following cases in the EU in the early 1970s, the index outbreak occurred in 1979 in New England. This was followed by extension through the Mid-Atlantic States in the early 1980s and ultimately emergence in the Southwest and Pacific regions in the 1990s.

Total SE cases in the U.S. peaked at 10,200 in 1995 but had declined to 5,000 by 2005. Incidence rates in the Mid-Atlantic States, clearly the worst affected region, attained 9.1 per 100,000 in 1994. By 2007, the level was lower at 2.5 per 100,000 population.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected that the 5,333 confirmed cases of SE actually represented 170,000 cases nationwide, of which 108,000 were attributed to consumption of infected eggs. Irrespective of the validity of these projections, based on a series of contested assumptions, it was evident that a problem existed, stimulating Federal intervention.

Egg quality assurance programs

During the late 1990s, individual states introduced the Egg Quality Assurance Programs requiring producers to conform to minimal standards of biosecurity, post-pack refrigeration, vaccination, assay of flocks for environmental contamination and diversion of eggs from infected flocks to breaking and pasteurization. The elimination of vertically transmitted infection through successive generations, extending from pure lines to parent stock, was critical to the attainment of a meaningful reduction in  the prevalence of SE in flocks.

The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) established in the early 1930s is responsible for the coordination of Federal, state and industry activities to eradicate vertically transmitted infections. The Plan mandates operating procedures, approves diagnostic tests and certifies hatcheries supplying day-old chicks and poults.

Originally focused on the eradication of Salmonella pullorum infection, the NPIP is now concerned with SE in laying strains, in addition to other pathogens in a wide range of avian species. Adherence to the requirements of the National Poultry Improvement Plan ensures a supply of commercial replacement pullet chicks from hatcheries certified free of SE. This is an essential foundation of industry efforts to prevent SE in commercial flocks.

In 2003, a nationally distributed brand of eggs introduced a rigorous SE prevention program involving vaccination and enhanced biosecurity required of all franchised egg producers. The use of lateral-flow immunoassay test kits was central to the successful implementation of the program. Since flocks were screened five times from the day of placement to the end of the second cycle of production, a rapid test with appropriate parameters was required in place of the conventional Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) microbiological procedure.

RapidChek® SELECT™ - a highly sensitive test

The Romer Labs RapidChek® SELECT™ lateral flow immunoassay has become the standard screening procedure to determine the presence of a Group D1 Salmonella in manure drag swabs or in egg pools. The procedure is regarded by the FDA as equivalent to the more laborious and expensive BAM methodology. Following the initial evaluation of the RapidChek® method, it was determined that the test demonstrated a sensitivity of 100 percent, critical for a screening test which should not provide false negatives.

Concurrently in the approval process assaying 141 Group D1 Salmonella isolates and 210 non-Group D1 Salmonella serotypes, the specificity of the test was determined to be 93 percent. This is an important parameter since a false positive assay from a 45-week old flock of 125,000 hens will incur substantial costs and disrupt operations.

Applying the BAM method a commercial laboratory examined 2,412 drag swab samples in 2010, yielding 1,477 “suspicious” colonies requiring further examination. From this complement only two SE positive samples were confirmed. The combined results from two mid-West state laboratories applying the RapidChek® assay in 2010 and 2011 yielded 106 “presumptive” positives from approximately 14,000 drag swabs examined.

Confirmatory bacteriologic assays identified 16 SE isolates from the routine samples submitted by producers. Data from a Western state laboratory on 1,162 drag swabs compared the ability of the RapidChek® assay to detect Group D1 Salmonella against the conventional BAM microbiological assay. Eleven “presumptive” positives were identified using lateral-flow immunoassay compared to three SE positives applying the BAM procedure.

Practical considerations

The specificity of a screening assay is important from the perspective of potential financial loss. It is calculated that if a false positive environmental assay was obtained from a flock at the mandatory 40 to 45 weeks age period, withholding eggs from the market or diverting to breaking and pasteurization over a four-week period during which confirmatory test are performed could cost as much as $75,000 for a flock of 125,000 hens, depending on the prevailing market price of shell eggs and breaking stock.

In 2010, shortly after the introduction of the FDA Final Rule on Prevention of Salmonella, a widespread outbreak associated with one complex in Iowa resulted in an extensive recall ultimately numbering 500 million eggs. This case was an aberration and was due to gross mismanagement and did not reflect current practices in the industry.

In this 2010 outbreak, the initial round of assays derived from the audits conducted by the FDA applying the FDA BAM methodology showed an infection rate of 2.5 percent of flocks examined. This has since declined to negligible levels. There have not been any reported cases of SE attributed to eggs from 2011 onwards. This is due to diligent compliance with the principles of the FDA Final Rule and is based in large measure on the frequency and intensity of environmental monitoring. This would not have been possible without the application of the RapidChek® SELECT™ SE test, which is used by commercial and state laboratories to conduct screening and compliance assays for the industry.

Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates that SE infection in the poultry industry is now associated with broiler meat and that SE isolates comprise an increasingly greater percentage of Salmonella serotypes recovered from carcass washes. Accordingly, programs of suppression and elimination are being applied, with the SE kit as the preferred screening technique for parent and growing flocks in the U.S. broiler industry.

Articles Food Pathogens
news-871 Tue, 26 Jul 2016 07:38:00 +0200 RAS Mill Training Video The RAS® Mill has been specifically developed for difficult-to-grind products, like pet foods and nuts. Watch our Training Video! Videos Sampling Mills news-870 Tue, 26 Jul 2016 07:18:00 +0200 Romer Series II™ Mill Training Video The Romer Series II™ Mill is the only mill available that simultaneously grinds and sub-samples quickly and easily. Watch our Training Video! Videos Sampling Mills news-882 Fri, 22 Jul 2016 07:13:00 +0200 Preventing False-Positive Results in Pathogen Testing Costly and tedious to follow up on, false-positive results in pathogen detection can be minimized with phages that reduce the occurrence of cross-reacting bacteria in pathogen tests. Cross-reacting bacteria can cause false positive results and inhibit the growth of the pathogen in question. False-positive results cause extra costs for food producers, in addition to the extra time needed to confirm the results. According to ISO/FDA/USDA standards, the process of confirming test results begins with streaking selective agar plates from the presumptive positive sample. These agar plates must be incubated for two days to prove whether it is a real positive result sample, and incubated at a different temperature from that of routine samples. If a lab does not have an additional incubator, the main incubator must be set aside and adjusted to the required temperature, which means downtime as the incubator cannot be used for enrichments.

Another down side of the confirmation step is that the selective agar plates cost money. As they have a very limited shelf-life, it is hard to keep them in stock. Overall, false-positive tests demand unnecessary time and money.

The false-positive issue

False-positive results may occur with every pathogen detection method. It does not matter if it is a DNA, a biochemical or an immunological based technology. They are all dealing with the same issue of higher sensitivity versus higher selectivity. A good approach is to eliminate cross reacting bacteria before detection, and antibiotics are used for this purpose. But for most applications, antibiotics lack selectivity.

Overcoming the selectivity challenge

Bacteriophages (or phages) are the most abundant organisms in our environment and are present in high numbers in water, food and various other sources. They were discovered by the Canadian biologist Félix Hubert d’Hérelle in 1917. Their name means “bacteria eaters”, which somewhat defines what they do.

Bacteriophages have high host specificity, attaching themselves to bacteria. The big advantage of using phages is, that they are harmless to humans, animals and plants. In fact, humans are routinely exposed to phages through food or water consumption with no negative effects.
Phages can be called “the natural enemies” of the bacteria to which they are specific to. In processed meat and meat products, there are about 108 phages per gram. High numbers of phages are also present in the human gastrointestinal tract. Before antibiotics became widely available, phages were used to treat bacterial infections.

Used for decades

The so-called phage therapy was developed in the USA and the former USSR. Even as antibiotics were being developed in the western world, the former Soviet bloc continued its research on phage therapy. In the post-cold war era, research activities on phages were continued in Georgia where they are still being carried out today.

Phages have very high specificity to their host bacteria, a characteristic that presents potentially interesting applications for food and feed, as well as the biotech industry. Today, phages are used as additives to eliminate pathogenic organisms in food, as an instrument to detect bacteria, or as supplement in the Romer Labs SELECT™ media system, to reduce or even eliminate competitive bacterial flora, enabling target pathogenic bacteria species to grow to a detectable level.
They are more selective than antibiotics, and microbes do not develop any resistance to them.

Identifying cross-reactive bacteria

To identify phages, which can be used in selective enrichment media or other applications to inhibit or even kill competitive bacteria, the key question is: How can I even begin to find them?
The best way to start is by looking at food or feed samples, because these test materials contain bacteria which should be inhibited during enrichment. Bacteria strains that are distantly related, to the pathogen searched for, are not the target of the phages, but strains that are closely related to the target pathogen could cause false-positive results.

Transgenic? Not at all!

After the cross-reacting background bacteria are identified, the next step is to search for a phage that can act against it. Phages can be found everywhere, such as in raw sewage, surface water, food and the agricultural environment.

The easiest way to extract them, if it is a sold matrix, is centrifugation. In this way, the phages will stay in the supernatant, while other components such as bacteria will form a pellet at the bottom of the container. This supernatant contains a heterogeneous mixture of different phages.
Next the different phages are isolated and the bacterial host they infect will have to be determined. This could be done by the so-called “soft agar overly technique or by simple spotting”. In this technique, a lawn of bacteria is overlaid on a traditional agar plate and the phage supernatants are spotted on the bacterial lawn.

After an overnight incubation, the phages create plaques (or zones of clearing), which are visible to the naked eye. Plaques are zones where the phages have killed the bacteria by a lytic reaction. Now, the phage clones can be isolated from the agar, which means that they are all copies of the same phage strain.

Articles Food Pathogens
news-859 Tue, 12 Jul 2016 12:20:00 +0200 Sampling for mycotoxins – do we care enough? As mycotoxins are invisible, odorless and tasteless, the only way to determine if grains or feeds contain these undesired compounds is to analyze for them. However, although excellent analytical methods are available, it is difficult to estimate accurately and precisely the mycotoxin concentration in a large bulk lot because of the large variability associated with the overall mycotoxin test procedure. Testing for mycotoxins is a complicated process that generally consists of three steps: (1) several small samples are taken at random from the lot and composed into one larger "lot sample”, (2) the entire lot sample is ground to a fine particle size and a representative subsample, the "analytical sample”, is removed for analysis, and (3) the mycotoxins are extracted from the analytical sample and finally quantified.

Analytical techniques for the detection of mycotoxins continued to improve in the past. However, even when using accepted test procedures there is variability associated with each of the above mentioned steps. Studies by several scientists have shown that sampling usually is the largest source of variation associated with the mycotoxin test procedure [1, 2, 4, 5, 6]. For example nearly 90% of the error associated with aflatoxin testing can be attributed to sampling. As time and money are being spent for the analyses of mycotoxins, the extra time for proper sampling is crucial for replicable mycotoxin results.

Sampling must be monitored and proper techniques implemented. Sampling procedures must be written, reviewed and followed by everyone involved.

The high sampling error when testing for mycotoxins is due to two main factors: low concentration of mycotoxins in a given commodity (the "ppb-problem”) and the unequal distribution in the lot.

The ppb-problem

Despite extremely high levels of mycotoxins in some kernels, the overall concentration of mycotoxins in a lot of grain is usually very low. The unit of measurement is commonly "parts per billion” (ppb). To illustrate the meaning of these low levels, some examples are given in table 1. [3] Always remember: mycotoxins already affect human and animal health at these low concentrations!

1 ppb is…

  • 1 part in 
  • 1 second in 32 years
  • 1 grain of sand in 22 kg
  • 1 corn plant in 40.000 acres of corn
  • 1 kernel of corn in 3.5 railcars
Articles Mycotoxins Analytical Service
news-848 Thu, 07 Jul 2016 14:52:00 +0200 Find the Right Mycotoxin Testing Tool Feed millers and livestock producers have more choice than in the past when it comes to testing for the presence of mycotoxins in commodity raw materials and finished feed. Here’s how to select the appropriate method for your situation. For decades, taking samples and sending them to an analytical service provider has been the main method for determining the presence of mycotoxins. In recent years on-site rapid test methods have become widely available, offering simplicity and ease-of- use to quickly detect mycotoxins on site. With more options to choose from, finding the right tool has gained importance. 

Articles Mycotoxins
news-847 Thu, 07 Jul 2016 13:10:00 +0200 Allergen Thresholds are VITAL! Legislation demands the labelling of allergens, but without reference materials, there is the omnipresent problem of lacking threshold limits. Every producer faces a dilemma in allergen labelling. Does the concentration of the allergenic ingredient found in the food product fall at, above or below the level at which the food product can be labelled allergen free? So how sensitive does the test system have to be? 

More and more food producers turn away from traditional allergen concentrations towards the concept of action levels. These action levels, as originally suggested with VITAL (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling) by the Australian Allergen Bureau, focus on the final intake by the allergic individual.

This concept takes into account the average serving size. Hence, the same allergen concentration has a different effect on the consumer in a pinch of spices than in a portion of pasta. 

Manufacturers are encouraged to assess the impact of allergen cross contamination in their products when considering detection limits to provide relevant precautionary labelling of allergens.

Articles Food Allergens
news-846 Thu, 07 Jul 2016 12:56:00 +0200 The Hook Effect When a negative is not a negative: The mystery about false test strip results. Overloading a lateral flow device with allergen can lead to a false negative result. This process is referred to as the “hook effect”.

The hook effect does not pose a problem in day-to-day testing using the strips. In fact, it is only usually encountered when someone is trying to verify if the LFDs are working correctly by testing 100% of the allergenic food. By doing so, the amount of allergen present exceeds the finite amount of the colored labelling material, often colloidal gold or colored latex coupled to the detection antibody. 

The excess unlabelled allergen migrates along the membrane quicker than the heavier color-labelled allergen, saturating all the binding sites on the capture antibodies immobilised on the membrane surface. When the color-labelled allergen arrives, no binding sites remain, so it simply continues on to the wicking pad at the end of the test device. Since no binding sites were available, the color-labelled allergen cannot create the colored test line that would normally represent a positive result.

Articles Food Allergens
news-873 Mon, 13 Jun 2016 15:09:00 +0200 Worldwide Mycotoxin Regulations Mycotoxins can cause a variety of adverse health effects in humans and animals. The mycotoxins of most concern so far include aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2 and M1), ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins, T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, zearalenone and patulin. Other mycotoxins are gaining importance from a food and feed safety perspective and maximum levels are under discussion.

European Union

In the European Union strict rules and legislative limits defined by the European Commission have been set for all of the above mentioned toxins in certain food- and feedstuff to protect animals and humans.

Regulations in the European Union


Articles News Mycotoxins
news-844 Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:13:00 +0200 Creating Liquid Mycotoxin Calibrants: A Behind-the-Scenes Look Many accredited labs use reference materials to show traceability and reliability of their analysis results. What’s less well-known is how reference materials are manufactured. Reference materials, or calibrants describe substances or objects with one or more defined characteristic property value(s) that are used as a measure or as a benchmark for measurement methods. Given the importance of consumer safety for the food and feed industry, mycotoxin testing involves the use of reference materials in order to obtain accurate and reliable results.

Ever-present danger

Mycotoxins are naturally-occurring secondary fungal metabolites toxic to animals and humans. Mold fungi grow on the field and during storage. Found in almost all agricultural commodities worldwide, more than 380 mycotoxins have been identified and the toxicity of each substance varies greatly. The predetermined maximum permitted concentrations of various mycotoxins in vegetable raw materials such as grain, wheat, corn – to name just a few – have forced commodity producers to examine their samples carefully in an analytical laboratory to be sure about the quality of their products.

Gravimetric preparation

Frequently, a fungus that grows under optimal conditions – sufficiently warm temperatures, high humidity and a suitable substrate – can produce mycotoxins. In the lab, the story of a reference material begins with the attempt to adjust artificial growth conditions in order to obtain optimal mycotoxin yields. This includes the use of a suitable fungal genus – as every fungus produces its own characteristic pattern of metabolites that can number into the several hundreds. The maintenance of fungal strains for production is crucial. Their vitality and functionality are constantly being monitored, since this forms the basis of all activities for the reference material production processes. Molds are living organisms that might mutate over time, or even degenerate and result in decreasing mycotoxin yields. New metabolites may form after a certain storage period, which can also influence the isolation process immensely. Strains must be renewed regularly in order to counteract mutations, impurities or other undesirable characteristics.

The first step, fermentation, hinges on making the lab environment literally as tasty as possible for the fungus to promote its growth. The optimal media also vary from strain to strain, so components such as salts and minerals are provided as a source of nutrients. The mold is allowed to grow for a certain time – anywhere from a few days to a few weeks – during which time the fungus metabolizes its medium.

After completion of the fermentation and a careful control of the process the mycotoxin is extracted from the culture material using a suitable organic solvent. Depending on the molecular structure, these can be polar or non-polar organic solvents. During fermentation, molds mostly produce impurities in addition to the toxin of interest, e.g. other metabolites, colorings, oils, etc.

The resulting crude extract often contains many impurities. During isolation or purification, the mycotoxin is brought step-by-step closer to the target purity of >98% through various chromatographic and preparative applications with different selectivity.
Some toxins have favorable molecular structures, and can be crystallized from a supersaturated solution of polar or apolar organic solvents. This happens, for example, by cooling the solution, by evaporating the crystallization solvent or by mixing several solvents of different polarity. Other toxins may be rendered in crystalline, powdery form by freeze-drying. By crystallization the purity of the toxin is thereby increased again until the target purity is obtained.

Articles Mycotoxins Reference Materials
news-835 Thu, 19 May 2016 08:10:00 +0200 Beyond Immuno-Based Allergen Testing ELISA, lateral flow, PCR or mass-spectrometry – is there a perfect test for allergens? Kurt Brunner discusses the pros and cons of each method. Most commercially available kits for food allergen testing rely on the application of immuno-based methods such as ELISA or lateral flow devices (strip tests). To carry out ELISA, trained personnel are required but numerous samples can be analyzed in parallel by using 48-well or 96-well microtiter plates. In general, the analysis can take between 30 minutes and a few hours.
At present, ELISA is the most widely applied method for the detection and quantification of food allergens. However, although many samples can be analyzed at the same time, these samples can only be tested for one analyte.

Limitations to consider

Due to the high specificity of antibodies towards only one particular allergenic protein and technology related limitations, a separate kit has to be used for each allergen. Furthermore, the high degree of specificity to one allergen might lead to false negative results.
Food processing steps like heat treatment, the addition of acidic compounds or fermentation can modify the target protein structure. These modified allergens can lose their immunological properties and the antibody – target protein complex cannot be formed anymore. This leads to false negative results or reduced quantifications. Strip tests are inexpensive, very easy to use, do not require laboratory equipment, and give results usually in a few minutes. However, most strip tests are only qualitative and rely on antibodies as recognition elements. Therefore, they suffer from the same problems as ELISA tests with highly processed food.
In recent years, alternative analysis methods have been established to overcome at least some of the restrictions of immuno-based tests systems.

Detecting allergens with DNA

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is a relatively fast and inexpensive method for identifying DNA. This technology, developed in the 1980s, has improved continuously since then. PCR has been used for many years in the fields of medical diagnostics, forensics, environmental monitoring, and the quantification of genetically modified organisms in food and feed. In the early 2000s PCR was applied for the first time to identify the DNA of common food allergens like hazelnut and peanut. Until now, PCR assays for most of the US “big eight” and the 14 EU food allergens have been published.
PCR amplifies small fragments of a target DNA until a sufficient number of copies are obtained for visualization or quantification. By multiplying the analytical target by a factor of 107 to 109, the few molecules of allergen DNA obtained might just be sufficient for the successful detection of allergenic ingredients. Initially developed as a qualitative method, PCR was later modified to become a tool for quantitative analysis by the application of different fluorescent generating dyes or probes. The fact that PCR detects the extremely stable DNA molecule might be an advantage when analyzing highly processed food. DNA tends to be unaffected even by extreme conditions and can therefore still be detected even when most of the proteins have already been degraded or modified in some way. Furthermore, PCR can be used for allergens like celery which cannot be detected by antibodies. Celery has to be labeled in the EU but until now, all attempts to produce reliable antibodies have failed due to the close relationship between celery and other plants like parsley, carrot, coriander or fennel.
Over the last decade, newer DNA detection techniques have been developed. All these so-called isothermal amplification methods are in some way related to the conventional PCR but can be performed almost without any instrumentation.
A simple heating block is used to amplify the target DNA and the subsequent visual detection is realized via fluorescent dyes. Isothermal amplification is usually faster than PCR and less prone to any co-isolated impurities and in many cases even more sensitive.

Articles Food Allergens
news-843 Tue, 17 May 2016 15:48:00 +0200 Spot On: How to Choose The Right Allergen Test Kit Food manufacturers need to know what goes into their products, and communicate the presence of any potential allergens, even in trace amounts, to consumers. Careful testing of raw materials and final products is therefore paramount. But how does one choose the right test kit and ensure that it is suitable for use with the relevant matrices? After all, there are a lot of different food types and matrices to work with. Find answers to these questions and some more in our Spot On magazine.

In this issue:

  • Challenges in Allergen Testing: Spiking and Recoveries
  • The Hook Effect - When a Negative is not a Negative
  • A Look Beyond Immuno-Based Allergen Testing
  • Allergen Thresholds are VITAL - The Relevance of Action Levels

Enjoy your reading!

Magazines Food Allergens
news-842 Tue, 17 May 2016 15:29:00 +0200 Romer Academy 2016 – another successful meeting 11-12 May 2016, Tulln and Getzersdorf News Food Allergens news-868 Tue, 17 May 2016 15:22:00 +0200 Product Launch: New Soy Test Kit With the launch of an improved AgraStrip® Soy, Romer Labs reduces the total assay time of its lateral flow device to 11 minutes while maintaining high standards of analytical accuracy. In addition, a new Extraction Reagent will allow for the recovery of processed soy protein.

Romer Labs announces improvements of the rapid on-site strip test for the detection of soy. The new AgraStrip® Soy can be applied to a variety of finished food products, as well as rinse water and environmental swab samples.

The new AgraStrip® Soy was developed to protect brands and consumers from accidental soy contaminations. It uses a new and improved monoclonal antibody which allows extremely low amounts of soy to be detected in a shorter period of time. The first incubation step is now reduced from 20 to only 5 minutes, leading to a total assay time of 11 minutes.

Furthermore, the new AgraStrip® Extraction Reagent for Processed Soy improves the recovery of processed soy proteins, which are often difficult to detect, and thereby helps to avoid false negative results.

Soy represents an important food allergen all over the world. It is among the top allergens in Europe, which require labelling according to EU Regulation No 1169/2011 and is on the list of major food allergens in the USA according to the food allergen labeling act (FALCPA). Labeling of soy is furthermore mandatory in Canada, Japan and Australia/ New Zealand, all of them following Codex Alimentarius recommendations.

Soy is increasingly used as an ingredient in food preparations. The ever-present risk of cross contaminations in food production facilities has therefore risen in recent years.

For additional information please contact


Press Releases Food Allergens
news-838 Thu, 12 May 2016 13:14:00 +0200 Overcoming LC-MS/MS Matrix Effects for Maximum Reliability As in any analytical technique, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) results are influenced by the matrix analyzed. These matrix effects – caused by ion enhancement or suppression – can produce overestimates or underestimates of measured values of the target analyte. Validation of routinely used methods may eliminate the most severe effects in common matrices. However, even in very simple matrices like corn, different varieties might have different influences on ionization, therefore leaving significant room for unreliability. Common approaches to counter matrix effects include matrix- matched calibration, standard addition to each sample and the application of internal standards. The first two strategies entail additional work in terms of sample preparation or additional runs, incurring further costs. Importantly, matrix-matched calibration and standard addition cannot fully compensate for matrix effects. The effectiveness of internal standards in compensating for matrix effects depends on the choice of calibrants.

Calibrant choice matters

Internal standards can be chemically-related compounds such as derivatives (e.g. zearalanone for zearalenone) or similar compounds with identical behavior during the ionization process that differ only in terms of the mass of the atoms (stable isotopes). LC-MS/MS analyses rely on stable isotope dilution assays to overcome matrix effects by the addition of known amounts of stable isotope-labeled standards to the analyzed sample. Stable isotope labeling involves the use of non-radioactive isotopes like ²H, 13C or 15N to replace the naturally occurring atom. Using Deuterium (²H) to replace the naturally occurring 1H doubles the mass, which is the reason why deuterated labeled standards might show retention time shifts resulting in less accurate LC-MS/MS results.

Articles Mycotoxins Reference Materials Residues + Adulterants
news-837 Thu, 12 May 2016 12:43:00 +0200 Traceability and Certified Reference Materials Full traceability is a key factor in audit situations. Certified reference materials, accompanied by full and clear documentation, are one way to accomplish this. Certified Reference MaterialsMany terms describe reference standards in analytical methods, like reference materials, certified reference materials, calibrator, standard, etc. Certified reference materials are defined as reference materials characterized by metrological traceability, a certified value and an uncertainty budget. It complies with all requirements of ISO 17025, GLP, etc. and comes with complete documentation on:

  • purity assessment of the raw material
  • traceability back to national standards
  • measurement uncertainty and its calculation
  • a homogeneity study
  • a long- and short-term stability study
  • description of intended use

Certified reference materials are intended for the verification of in-house standards such as reference materials routinely used in the lab. They are used for the calibration of equipment especially in ISO 17025 accredited testing laboratories where traceability and high quality of results are of great importance.

Articles Mycotoxins Reference Materials
news-836 Thu, 12 May 2016 10:36:00 +0200 Top Three Challenges in External Accreditation Audits Coping with the requirements of customers and external accreditation authorities is the day-to-day business of a lab manager. The three points outlined in this article spell the key to producing reliable results. External audits for ISO 17025 accreditation can be a true test of expertise. The auditors typically work in the same field and are themselves genuine experts. They assess the technical competence of the laboratory in-depth. For most labs traceability, measurement uncertainty and matrix effects pose the biggest challenges during an external accreditation audit.

1. Traceability

This is one issue every laboratory struggles with. An accredited laboratory is required to show that a result on one of its test reports can be traced back to international standard (SI) base units. In the case of a result stated in μg/kg (microgram per kilogram) obtained by HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) or LC-MS (liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry detection) this implies clear documentation. Both use a liquid standard for calibration, and in order to claim full traceability back to the SI base unit kilogram, auditors will want a certification report stating the full procedure of preparation and all measures taken by the supplier. (For more, see the box text on 'Traceability and Certified Reference Materials')

2. Measurement uncertainty

Under ISO 17025 requirements, the measurement uncertainty (mu) of every accredited method must be calculated and included in the test report. There are many ways to estimate or calculate measurement uncertainty and which way is accepted depends a lot on the preference of the national accreditation body. A simple and practical way for small laboratories to estimate measurement uncertainty is through the use of control charts. It is good laboratory practice to use a matrix-based control sample that ideally is naturally contaminated with or has been spiked with the analyte of interest. This sample is then added to each sequence run.
Results of the control samples are plotted on control charts that are used for long-term assessment and identification of trends for each method. The measurement uncertainty is derived from a two-sigma standard deviation of all results. In Europe, a valid approach is the “fitness for purpose” approach published in Commission Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 which details the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of mycotoxin levels in foodstuffs. The following formula presents a way of calculating the maximum standard uncertainty:

Articles Mycotoxins
news-805 Mon, 09 May 2016 15:04:00 +0200 Challenges in Allergen Testing - Spiking and Recoveries Adrian Rogers discusses the basics on detecting allergens in food – from finding the right test kit to methods for precise validation. When I started developing immunoassays for the detection of allergens in food, the first thing that struck me was the wide range of different food types or matrices that the assays had to work with. Coming from a medical immunoassay background, there was a limited number of different matrices to work with. In my case, this was blood serum. With food there is an almost infinite range of different sample types, each with their own specific properties.

How do I choose the right test kit?

So how do we ensure that the test kit produced is suitable for use with such a diverse and challenging range of samples? This is where sample validation comes in. The process involves adding a known amount of an allergen of interest to our matrix (spike) and then trying to get that allergen back out again (recovery).
An important thing to remember is that, as the name implies, immunoassays use biological components (antibodies) to achieve the detection of the allergenic proteins of interest. As with all biological systems, the kits are sensitive to extremes.
In the case of foods, the kits may not work as they should in the presence of strong acid or alkali, high salt, high fat, etc. Many of these extremes can be countered during the extraction process. Kits therefore use a buffered system to cope with changes in pH and the addition of the buffer to the sample helps reduce and dilute some of the other problems such as salt and fat.

Is my recovery acceptable?

When it comes to the recovery of a known amount of allergen from a sample matrix, what is deemed acceptable? Before answering this, we need to define where we are starting from. Is it an incurred sample or a spiked one?

Incurred samples are defined as samples in which a known amount of the food allergen has been incorporated during processing, mimicking as closely as possible the actual conditions under which the sample matrix would normally be manufactured.

The subject of incurred samples will be discussed in more depth in a subsequent issue of Spot On. In this article, I will concentrate on outlining a more accessible method of spiking a known amount of allergen into a matrix as received from the supplier or manufacturer and measuring its recovery.    

With regard to recovery, the guidance states that:

“Ideal percent recovery levels would range from 80 to 120%. Recovery levels are affected by both the efficiency of the extraction step and the ELISA procedure.

“With ELISA methods for food allergens, this level of recovery is not always possible, particularly when certain difficult matrixes are analysed. In addition, the recovery from incurred samples can be substantially different from those obtained using spiked samples.

"For this reason, recoveries between 50 and 150% will be considered acceptable so long as they can be shown to be consistent.”

The guidelines were published in 2010 by the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC) with particular reference to quantitative ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) methods. Many of the key points are also applicable to qualitative or semi-quantitative LFD (Lateral Flow Device) methods.

The “science” behind spiking 

When we receive or encounter a new food type that has not been tested before, we will undertake spike recovery validation to ensure it works as it should with our test kits. We will spike in at three different levels of allergen – low, medium and high – to cover the range of detection of the assay.

The low allergen spike will be close to the Lower Limit of Quantitation, LLOQ, of the ELISA (in this case the lowest value calibrator above 0 ppm) or close to the Limit of Detection, LOD, of a lateral flow device. The medium spike will be in the middle of the ELISA calibration curve, and the high spike will be at or near the Upper Limit of Quantitation, ULOQ (the highest ppm value calibrator). The sample is extracted and tested in accordance with the product insert supplied with the kit.

So for example, if we spike 5 ppm of almond into chocolate, we would expect to see a recovery of 4 ppm to 6ppm. If the result is outside of this range, then there are steps that can be taken to help improve the recovery. From experience, chocolate is one of the most challenging food matrices to test – it is full of tannins and other polyphenols which can bind to any allergenic protein that may be present and form insoluble complexes which are difficult to extract.

Such difficulties can be overcome by adding extra protein to the extraction buffer. The excess protein binds to the polyphenols and makes the allergens available for extraction. My protein of choice is fish gelatine, although other material such as milk powder can be used to improve the extraction efficiency from high polyphenol containing foods. If using milk powder, be careful not to contaminate your laboratory space, especially if you are carrying out milk allergen testing.

Lateral Flow Devices, or strips or dipsticks as they are sometimes referred to, can be validated for spike recovery in a similar way to an allergen ELISA test kit. The thing to be aware of when choosing a high spike level is that although LFDs are capable of detecting very high ppm levels, you can actually overload the device by adding too much allergen. This can occur in amounts greater than 1% of the allergenic food.

Maintaining quality and test precision

It may be necessary for a kit manufacturer to work closely with customers who routinely test challenging food matrixes. It is important to verify that the kit is working as it should and to the customer’s satisfaction. This can be achieved, as detailed above, by undertaking allergen spike recovery experiments into the problematic matrix.

In some cases it may be desirable to modify or change the standard kit method to meet the demands of the sample and/or the customer; this should always be undertaken with the guidance of the kit manufacture to ensure the quality and reproducibility of the test kit.

Articles Food Allergens
news-866 Sat, 30 Apr 2016 09:36:00 +0200 Job clip - Product Manager Lilian talks about being a Product Manager at Romer Labs. Videos Mycotoxins Reference Materials Sampling Mills Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Residues + Adulterants Analytical Service Microbiology news-862 Thu, 28 Apr 2016 09:16:00 +0200 Job clip - Product Manager Paula talks about being a Product Manager, Mycotoxin Risk Management at BIOMIN. Videos Mycotoxins Reference Materials Sampling Mills Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Residues + Adulterants Analytical Service Microbiology news-864 Thu, 21 Apr 2016 09:44:00 +0200 Job clip - Scientist Elisabeth talks about being a Scientist, Cell Biology at BIOMIN. Videos Mycotoxins Reference Materials Sampling Mills Food Allergens Food Pathogens GMO Residues + Adulterants Analytical Service Microbiology news-853 Tue, 12 Apr 2016 11:36:00 +0200 What are Ergot Alkaloids? Ergot alkaloids are a large group of compounds produced by fungi that attack a wide variety of grass species, including small grains, during the growing season. These compounds are chemically divided into the clavine alkaloids, lysergic acids, simple lysergic acid amides and peptide alkaloids. Two common alkaloids examined for in ergot are ergotamine and ergovaline. Production and occurrence

The major ergot fungus is Claviceps which produces sclerotia in several grass species with C. purpurea being the most commonly found species. However, C. fusiformis has produced ergot in pearl millet. C. paspali has been associated with problems in Dallis grass poisonings. Ergot does occur in sorghum and is caused by the organism Sphacelia sorghi. While other fungi are also capable of producing ergot alkaloid these are the major species that are producers of ergot in grain.

Ergot Alkaloid formulaThe entire life cycle of the organism Claviceps is quite complex but for simplicity, this organism and the other fungi mentioned above replace the developing ovaries of the developing seed with hard masses of fungal tissue called sclerotia (sometimes called "Ergots"). The sclerotia are brown to purple-black in color and contain the ergot alkaloids. The fungus gains entry into the host plant from ergots that have been in the soil. The infecting fungal elements are assisted by wind and splashing rain in gaining access to the host plant where the florets are invaded with subsequent development of sclerotia. The fungus uses nutrients from the plant for development of the ergots and biosynthesis of the ergot alkaloids. The ergots are harvested with the grain and if not eliminated by screening or some other process they can end up in feed or food made from the contaminated grain. Ergot is not a storage initiated problem but the ergots can be present in stored grains resulting from harvesting of ergots along with the grain.


Ergotism is one of the oldest known mycotoxicoses with ancient records of its occurrence. One of the most publicized events was the human epidemics produced by ergot in the Middle Ages known as St. Anthony’s fire with symptoms of gangrene, central nervous and gastrointestinal effects. Animals are affected similarly to what has been observed in humans. In swine agalactia has been attributed to ergot alkaloids. The loss of ears and other appendages is a common effect of ergot in animals. Two types of ergotism have been described; gangrenous and convulsive.
The differences may be due to the different kinds of alkaloids present in the ergot as variations in amount and kinds of alkaloids can occur in the ergot (sclerotia). Recent outbreaks have occurred in Ethiopia (1978) where gangrene and loss of limbs occurred and in India (1975) where the effects were more of the nervous type symptoms of giddiness, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting.
Ergometrine was the alkaloid found in the Ethiopian sclerotia and in India the clavine alkaloids agroclavine, elymoclavine, chanoclavine, penniclavine and setoclavine were found. The ergots produced in these two outbreaks were caused by different species of Claviceps. Because some of the ergot alkaloids are vasoconstrictive and have other beneficial pharmacological properties, they have been used therapeutically. In the United States, most of the widely grown tall fescue posesses an endophytic fungus called Neotyphodium coenophialum. This endophyte produces ergovaline, an ergopeptine, which can, if consumed levels are sufficient, produce ergot-like toxicosis in animals grazed on pastures containing the fescue grass (CAST, 2003).

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-852 Tue, 12 Apr 2016 11:36:00 +0200 What is Deoxynivalenol? Deoxynivalenol is also known as vomitoxin or DON. It may co-exist with other toxins produced by the same organism that produces this toxin, especially zearalenone. Production and occurrence

Fusarium graminearum is the principal DON-producing fungus in grains but Fusarium culmorum is often involved as well especially in certain geographical areas of the world.
Corn and small grains such as wheat, oats and barley are the major crops affected. The organism survives on old infected residue left on the field from the previous season, providing an inoculum source for the new crop. The organism does well in cool, moist conditions with contamination of the crop occurring when spores (conidia) of the organism are windblown to the silks of the corn and in small grain to the anthers (male portions of the flower) which emerge outside the floret during what is called anthesis. The fungus penetrates the host ear or floret and produces the disease and DON. In wheat, it appears that DON production is necessary for the organism to produce the disease.

In corn the “ear rot” produced by F. graminearum may appear as purple to pink stained kernels with visible pink mold growth over the affected areas of the ear. Sometimes the growth of the fungus will appear through the husk as pink growth and staining and the entire ear will be affected. Wheat heads may appear prematurely ripe and the ripe kernels will have a blanched appearance (tombstone kernels) and may have pink stain present from the fungus.
This is not quite as evident in barley kernels, but oat kernels will have pink staining as well. The disease in wheat is called head blight, scab or pink scab.

Storage under good conditions (<14% moisture) will minimize further elaboration of the toxin by these toxigenic fungi. Conditions favorable to mold growth should be avoided as well as insect pests and moisture. Generally, storage is not considered a problem for DON contaminated wheat and corn that has matured and been stored at moisture percentages below 14%.


Swine are the animals most usually affected by this toxin and exhibit reduced intake of contaminated grain, if they do eat it, they may vomit. Levels above 1 ppm are considered potentially harmful to these animals. Pet foods prepared with wheat contaminated with this toxin have been involved in acute toxicities. DON is a known immunosuppressant and may cause kidney problems. Humans are thought to exhibit a similar vomition syndrome when consuming DON-contaminated grain. DON does not appear to carry over into tissues or fluids of animals consuming toxic levels. Baking and malting are adversely affected by contaminated wheat and barley.

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-865 Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:45:00 +0200 Job clip - Project Specialist Jakob talks about being a Project Specialist at ERBER Group. Videos Topics news-857 Mon, 11 Apr 2016 11:33:00 +0200 What is Zearalenone? This compound is chemically a phenolic resorcyclic acid lactone that is primarily an estrogenic fungal metabolite. It is observed on thin layer chromatographic plates under short wavelength ultraviolet light as a greenish fluorescent compound. This compound may be produced in concert with deoxynivalenol by certain isolates of the fungus. Production and occurrence

ZON formulaThe major species of fungus responsible for producing this mycotoxin is Fusarium graminearum. In some of the older literature this organism is called F. roseum. Grain infected with this organism often will have a pink color because of a pigment that may be simultaneously produced with the zearalenone.

Most often the compound is found in corn, however, it is found also in other important crops such as wheat, barley, sorghum and rye throughout various countries of the world. In wheat the conditions for the occurrence of zearalenone would be essentially the same as for the occurrence of deoxynivalenol as the organism gains entry into the host plant in the same manner. Generally, the Fusarium species grow in moist cool conditions and similarly invade crops under these more favorable conditions. As noted above, the same organism produces both of these compounds. This same organism is capable of producing both compounds in corn. The finding of aflatoxin co-occurring with zearalenone and deoxynivalenol would imply that infection was established by two different fungi, Aspergillus flavus in the case of aflatoxin and F. graminearum in the case of the latter two mycotoxins. In wheat, sorghum and corn, it is well-established that zearalenone occurs in preharvest grain but in other commodities the surveys are insufficient to determine if the zearalenone occurred pre- or postharvest.
Variations in the incidence of zearalenone occur with different crop years, cereal crop and perhaps geographical areas.

As with other fungi, to avoid growth of F. graminearum in grains during storage the moisture level should be <14%. Perhaps, zearalenone can be produced in relatively cool conditions compared to some other mycotoxins but it is likely that most grains mentioned above can become contaminated with zearalenone during storage and levels that were present in the grain preharvest may increase if the grain is not sufficiently dried and stored.


The most notable effect of zearalenone is that it causes precocious development of mammae and other estrogenic effects in young gilts as well as prepucial enlargement in young barrows.
Swine appear to be the animals most significantly affected and are considerably more sensitive than rodents. Weak piglets and small litter size have been attributed to the effects of zearalenone when fed to sows during gestation. Levels of 0.5 to 1.0 ppm of dietary zearalenone have been associated with the latter effects while hyperestrogenism in swine was associated with dietary levels of 1.5 to 5.0 ppm. Twelve ppm zearalenone was found in sorghum that was involved in bovine abortion. Zearalenone appears to bind to estrogen receptors and can result in hormonal changes. Zearalenone does not appear to be involved in mortalities because of its high oral LD50. Interestingly, zearalenone or its metabolites have been suspected to cause precocious pubertal changes in young children in Puerto Rico. The occurrence of this phenomenon in other countries needs confirmation as to the causation. Of note is that the metabolite of zearalenone known as α-zearalenol, is actually more estrogenic than is the parent compound (Richardson et al., 1985).

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-854 Fri, 08 Apr 2016 11:35:00 +0200 What is Fumonisin? Fumonisins are a group of toxins, primarily, FB1, FB2, FB3. They are not fluorescent and were discovered in 1988, in South Africa Gelderblom et al., 1988; Marasas, 2001) Production and occurrence

FUM formulaThere are two major producers, Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum, however other closely related species are capable of producing these toxins but are less important in grains. All strains are considerably variable in toxin producing ability.

Corn is the major commodity affected by this group of toxins, although a few occurrences have been reported in rice and sorghum. Fumonisins have been reported in barley but this awaits confirmation in further samples. The exact conditions for disease are not known but drought stress followed by warm, wet weather during flowering seems to be important.
Insect damage to maturing corn ears allows for environmentally present strains of the organism to enter the ear and kernels. Wet weather just prior to harvest may exacerbate the contamination with fumonisins in corn. However, the organism is present in virtually every seed and is present in the corn plant throughout its growth and therefore is present in the ears and kernels. Sometimes there is considerable amount of fumonisins present in symptomless kernels of corn.

As mentioned, some corn kernels may have no evidence of infection as the organism is internal and capable of toxin production. Other corn may demonstrate “pink kernel rot” with a closely adhering organism on the kernels. Sometimes the kernels will be covered with white fungal growth instead of pink. Those kernels with insect or bird damage or broken kernels will often contain the highest levels of toxin. Thus, corn screenings will contain the highest levels of toxins and are often found to be the cause of animal toxicoses. In rice, fumonisins have been found to be present where sheath rot disease is present.

Grains should be harvested without kernel damage, screened and dried to a level of moisture suitable for storage (<14%). Conditions favorable to mold growth likely will cause the further formation of fumonisins in storage. Grains should be kept free of additional moisture or insects. At this time, not much information is available for storage of fumonisin contaminated corn, but cleaning can considerably reduce the concentration levels in corn.


A major disease of horses that includes a softening of the white matter in the brains (leukoencephalomalacia) is caused by the fumonisins (Marasas et al., 1988). Swine lung edema is also produced by the fumonisins (Harrison et al., 1990; Ross et al., 1990). Other diseases such as liver disease and tumors have been noted in rodents (Voss et al., 2001). The fumonisins are tumor promoters and one study demonstrated total carcinogenesis, which has been confirmed in a two year study by the FDA. It is not known whether the fumonisins are truly involved in causing esophageal tumors in certain human populations. Fumonisins remain as suspect entities in neural tube defects in humans in certain regions of the world and is a current area of investigation (Marasas et al., 2004). Regardless of the other effects on animals, the liver is often involved in the toxicity. There is no carryover of fumonisins into milk in cattle and there appears to be little absorption of toxin in tissues but what little is rapidly taken up is rapidly eliminated.

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-849 Wed, 06 Apr 2016 11:38:00 +0200 What is Aflatoxin? A group of toxins, consisting primarily of aflatoxin B1, aflatoxin B2, aflatoxin G1, aflatoxin G2 and aflatoxin M1, are named for their respective innate fluorescent properties. Production and occurrence

Aflatoxin formulaThe major fungus producing aflatoxins is Aspergillus flavus. However, another fungus, Aspergillus parasiticus and a few other minor species of Aspergillus can also produce these toxins. Aspergillus parasiticus is especially important in peanuts. Not all strains of a given species are capable of aflatoxin production.

When grain such as corn is growing and there is warm ambient temperature (day >32°C; night >24°C), especially noted during drought conditions, the grain becomes more susceptible to aflatoxin formation. These stressful conditions are more prevalent in hot and dry environments (e.g. the southern United States, but can also occur in the Midwest (Corn Belt)). The organism survives in spores (conidia), which are carried by wind or insects to the growing crop. Any condition that interferes with the integrity of the seed coat allows the organism to gain entry into individual kernels. Insects such as sap beetles carry the organism into the developing ears especially those damaged by corn earworms and European corn borers. The two latter insects can carry the organism into plants as well. Corn, cottonseed, peanuts and tree nuts are the main crops affected.

Yellow-green spore masses may be visible at sites of kernel damage or may follow an insect feeding path. If heavily damaged kernels are cracked open by hand and examined under a black light (long wave, 365 nm) they may fluoresce bright greenish-yellow (BGYF). This fluorescence is due to a kojic acid derivative formed by the organism that produces aflatoxin and therefore provides only a “presumptive” indication of the presence of aflatoxin and is not to be used as a positive test for aflatoxin. Individual kernels of corn may contain as high as 400,000 ppb (μg/kg) of aflatoxin, therefore, sampling is very important in analysis for levels of contamination in bulk grain lots.

Grains stored under high moisture/humidity (>14%) at warm temperatures (>20 ºC) or/ and inadequately dried can potentially become contaminated. Grains must be kept dry, free of damage and free of insects; these conditions can result in mold “hot spots”. Initial growth of fungi in grains can form sufficient moisture from metabolism to allow for further growth and mycotoxin formation.


Aflatoxins can cause liver disease in animals, they are also carcinogenic with aflatoxin B1 being the most potent carcinogen (WHO, 2002). Susceptibility varies with breed, species, age, dose, length of exposure and nutritional status. Aflatoxins may cause decreased production (milk, eggs, weight gains, etc.), are immunosuppressive, carcinogenic and mutagenic. Aflatoxins can be present in milk, meat, or eggs if consumed levels are sufficient. Aflatoxin B1 is a human carcinogen and may play a role in the etiology of human liver cancer as speculated by Williams et al. (2004). Ammoniation and some adsorbents will reduce or eliminate the effects of aflatoxins, but can only be applied for animal feedingstuff and in certain countries or within specific states.

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-851 Wed, 06 Apr 2016 11:38:00 +0200 What is Citrinin? This is a yellow compound that is a phenol derivative. It is a lemon-yellow color when found on thin layer chromatograms viewed under visible light. The crystalline pure citrinin is also yellow. Production and occurrence

Citrinin formulaThe name of the compound came from the organism Penicillium citrinum from which this mycotoxin was first isolated. Since that time the compound has been shown to be produced by several other Penicillium species and also by a select few species of Aspergillus.
Citrinin has been isolated from its natural occurrence in cereal grains such as wheat, barley, oats, rice and corn. Probably the major characteristic of its occurrence is that it often co-occurs with ochratoxin A in the cereals and most isolates of fungi that produce citrinin also produce ochratoxin A. The conditions under which citrinin occurs in the field are presumed to be similar to that for ochratoxin and levels have been found in cereal grains as high as 80 ppm.
Unfortunately, little is known regarding the field occurrence of either ochratoxin or citrinin and therefore they are considered as storage problems in grains, although ochratoxin is known to occur in certain crops at harvest such as grapes but this is usually the result of production by some of the “black” aspergilli such as A. carbonarius.

Again, grains with any visible presence of mold should be suspect and especially if the fungi are identified and found to be species that are capable of citrinin production. Musty smelling grain should be suspect of any mycotoxins but only testing for the specific mycotoxins can be absolute proof.

It is likely that most of the citrinin in grains occurs during storage, at least until we gain further insight into the field occurrence. Therefore, grain should be adequately stored, kept dry and at <14% moisture and insects damage should be avoided or kept to a minimum.
Maintaining the integrity of the seed coat and avoiding favorable moisture for fungal growth
can keep mycotoxins from forming during storage.


Toxicity concerns for citrinin appear to be aimed toward poultry with the effects primarily on the kidney of these species. Regarding its relative toxicity, citrinin appears to be considerably less toxic to poultry than oosporein or ochratoxin A, two other important nephrotoxic mycotoxins.
High levels of citrinin may affect the liver in addition to the kidney. Citrinin produces necrosis of the distal tubule epithelium in the kidney and is a pH dependent tautomer. As citrinin it is neutral but when it is excreted in the alkaline urine it becomes a phenol which is rapidly reabsorbed by the kidney where it tautomerizes back to citrinin. In poultry common symptoms of toxicity by citrinin includes increased water consumption and diarrhea. These symptoms have been caused by levels as low as 130 and 260 ppm dietary citrinin. The diarrhea appears to be caused by the increased urine excretion due to altered function and degenerative processes of the renal tubules and not due to gastrointestinal disturbances. It is highly likely that when citrinin and ochratoxin occur in combination in grain and then fed to animals, there can be an exacerbation of the effects because of the similarity of the effects of both toxins. Any search for either toxin should include the other as well.

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-858 Mon, 04 Apr 2016 11:33:00 +0200 What is T-2/HT-2? This mycotoxin is a member of the fungal metabolites known as the trichothecenes. The trichothecenes are divided into two groups: macrocyclic and non-macrocyclic. T-2 toxin is in the non-macrocyclic group; this group is also subdivided into the Type-A and Type-B trichothecences. The Type-A trichothecenes include T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin and diacetoxyscirpenol (DAS) as mycotoxin components. Production and occurrence

T-2/HT-2 formulaFusarium sporotrichioides is the principle fungus responsible for the production of T-2 toxin. Some strains of this fungus also produce DAS and HT-2 toxin, however DAS is the least common of the three toxins. Corn, wheat, barley, oats, rice, rye and other crops have been reported to contain the T-2 toxin. Natural occurrence has been reported in Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and North America. Natural levels range from near zero to 10 ppm with a few exceptions showing levels of 15-40 ppm. The toxin production is greatest with increased humidity and temperatures of 6-24°C. Storage of commodities below 14% moisture will minimize further fungal growth and production of the T-2 toxin. In addition grains kept free of insect damage and dried prior to storage may decrease the effects of further contamination.
Poultry feed and certain other food products are most commonly contaminated. In the United States T-2 toxin is infrequently found and, if found, likely results from inadequate storage of products.

The Fusarium mold on corn primarily appears white, in some instances the mold can also appear pink to reddish, often beginning at the tip of the ear. Occasional blue-black specks will be found on the husk and ear shank to indicate mold contamination.


The major attribute of the T-2 toxin and other trichothecenes is that they inhibit protein synthesis which is followed by a secondary disruption of DNA and RNA synthesis (Ueno, 1984). It affects the actively dividing cells such as those lining the gastrointestinal tract, skin, lymphoid and erythroid cells. It can decrease antibody levels, immunoglobulins and certain other humoral factors. The effects include weight loss or poor weight gain, bloody diarrhea, dermal necrosis or beak lesions, hemorrhage and decreased production (weight gain, eggs, milk, etc.). The Type-A trichothecenes are more toxic to poultry species than the Type-B trichothecenes. Yellow caseous plaques, occurring at the margin of the beak, mucosa of the hard palate, angle of the mouth and tongue, characterize typical oral lesions. Severity of the lesions will increase with prolonged feeding and increased dietary levels. Beak or oral lesions can occur at dietary levels of 4 mg/kg after 1 week, 0.4 mg/kg after 7 weeks, and with 1-4 mg/kg, beak or oral lesions occurred in addition to decreased weight and feed intake after 3 weeks (Richard, 2007). There is also a synergism between aflatoxin and T-2 toxin discussed (Huff et al., 1988).

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-856 Tue, 29 Mar 2016 11:34:00 +0200 What is Patulin? The molds responsible for patulin production are common inhabitants of our environment. Patulin is a mycotoxin included in a group of compounds commonly known as toxic lactones. Patulin is a cyclic compound that is not fluorescent. Production and occurrence

Patulin formulaPatulin is produced by several fungi, most of which belong to the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium. Patulin actually gets its name from the mold Penicillium patulinum. Since 1986, additional genera have been added to the potential list of patulin producers.
Patulin contamination is primarily associated with damaged and rotting fruits and fruit juices made from poor quality fruits. Patulin producing molds are found on such fruits as peaches, pears, grapes and especially apples. Recent reports indicate that patulin can be found in some vegetables. By far the most common site of occurrence of patulin is in apples.
Patulin is particularly associated with apples exhibiting “brown rot” or other rotting characteristics. Any fruit with visible signs of rotting, decay or mold growth can be suspect and containing patulin (Frank, 1977).

Fruits stored under conditions that promote bruising and rotting increase the probability of patulin formation. Patulin is very stable in apple juice and grape juice. In many foodstuffs, sucrose actually protects patulin from degradation during heat treatment.


While patulin may be an important mycotoxin in problems associated with silage, confirmation of such has not be established but should be considered when investigating silage problems in especially dairy cattle. Initial studies of patulin indicated that it had antibiotic properties against certain bacteria. Further studies indicated, however, that the patulin was too toxic for use in humans. While some animal studies suggest a carcinogenic potential of patulin (Becci et al., 1981) by IARC. Symptoms of patulin include hemorrhaging in the digestive tract in cattle.

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-855 Tue, 22 Mar 2016 11:34:00 +0100 What is Ochratoxin? This mycotoxin is often referred to as ochratoxin A. Although ochratoxin B exists, it is of limited importance in diseases. Ochratoxin A is an innately fluorescent compound and detection during analysis is usually based on this property. Production and occurrence

Ochratoxin formulaThe primary producers of ochratoxin are Aspergillus ochraceus and Penicillium verrucosum. Other fungi such as Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus carbonarius may be important in some commodities or geographic areas.

Little is known of the conditions necessary for involvement of the producing fungi in grains and other commodities during development in the field. Therefore, ochratoxin has been regarded as being produced most likely in storage under conditions that would favor mold growth (adequate moisture/humidity and temperature).

Because of the diverse commodities on which the producing organisms and ochratoxin are found, the description of such is difficult. However, visible mold from the major species producing ochratoxin which vary from yellowish tan with A. ochraceus to blue-green with Penicillium species and black with A. niger or A. carbonarius. Visible mold may not be present for ochratoxin to occur in grains and other commodities. Grain that has a “musty” odor should be suspect for mycotoxins and ochratoxin would be included in the suspect list. Any time the integrity of the seed coat of grain has been compromised such as stress cracks and broken kernels, there is potential for invasion by the ochratoxin-producing fungi. Appropriate sampling for analysis is important as “hot spots” can occur in storage for the growth and ochratoxin production by these fungi.

As mentioned above, this is likely the major way that commodities become contaminated with ochratoxin. Grains stored under high moisture/humidity (>14%) at warm temperatures (>20°C) and/or inadequately dried potentially can become contaminated. Damage to the grain by mechanical means, physical means or insects can provide a portal of entry for the fungus. Initial growth of fungi in grains can form sufficient moisture from metabolism to allow for further growth and mycotoxin formation.


Ochratoxin is primarily a kidney toxin but if the concentration is sufficiently high there can be damage to the liver as well (Pfohl-Leszkowic and Manderville, 2007). Ochratoxin is a carcinogen in rats and mice and is suspect as the causative agent of a human disease, Balkan Endemic Nephropathy, that affects the kidneys and often tumors are associated with the disease (Wolstenholme et al., 1967). The toxin may be still present in products made from grain and the human population is exposed in this manner. A significant impact of ochratoxin is that it occurs in such a wide variety of commodities such as raisins, barley, soy products and coffee in amounts that may be relatively low. However, the levels may accumulate in the body of either humans or animals consuming contaminated food because ochratoxin is often not rapidly removed from the body and significant amounts may accumulate in the blood and other selected tissues. Ochratoxin produces necrosis of the proximal tubule epithelium and then is released whereby it is reabsorbed by albumin and continues to be circulated via the bloodstream. The awareness of the occurrence of ochratoxin in this wide variety of commodities has been possible through increased sensitivity of the methods for the analysis of ochratoxin. Of significance is the finding of high levels of ochratoxin in house dust (Richard et al., 1999) and could be an important entity in inhalation toxicology in humans and other animals as this compound apparently is absorbed efficiently by respiratory epithelium.

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Articles Mycotoxins
news-869 Wed, 16 Mar 2016 10:25:00 +0100 Spot On: Challenges in External Accreditation Audits In this issue of Spot On, our magazine for analytical industry professionals, we focus on the 3 biggest challenges labs encounter during the external audit process: traceability, measurement uncertainty and matrix effects. Other topics in this issue:

  • Traceability and Certified Reference Materials
  • Overcoming LC-MS/MS Matrix Effects for Maximum Reliability
  • Creating Liquid Mycotoxin Calibrants: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

Happy reading! 

Magazines Mycotoxins Reference Materials
news-1130 Sun, 06 Mar 2016 08:39:00 +0100 Food Allergen Testing - Facts vs. Fiction (3) Undeclared food allergens represent a serious health issue for consumers with allergies. To comply with legal requirements, food manufacturers need to implement allergen management plans, in which critical control points and the required testing method should be defined. As well as ELISA test kits, commercially available PCR (polymerase chain reaction) kits utilize a more modern technology. But can we assume that they are the better choice? This third part in our series on food allergen testing sheds light on this specific allergen testing method and the related misconceptions.

Articles Food Allergens
news-806 Tue, 22 Dec 2015 09:07:00 +0100 ERBER Group corporate social responsibility The Social Commitment program of the ERBER Group ERBER Group corporate social responsibility (CSR) web pages have been redesigned and updated with the latest information on a variety of charitable Opens external link in new windowprojects across the globe.

Charity is its own reward.

Have a look here

Type News
news-724 Tue, 13 Oct 2015 11:48:00 +0200 New ERBER Group website offers fresh user experience, optimized for mobile devices ERBER Group launches its new corporate website with an updated look and clean layout for optimized surfing at your desk or on the go. 12 October 2015 - In an age of mobile electronic devices, the new ERBER Group website presents a fresh look with ease of navigation on all technology platforms—desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones.

The new website provides strengthened visual appeal while preserving the content-rich structure and the following new features:

  • ERBER Group and its divisions at a glance
  • Large pictures and attractive visuals offer a modern look that combines both usability and appeal
  • An extended Human Resources section with more information for applicants
  • Enhanced navigation
  • New and improved search feature
  • Major improvements in the News & Media section such as filters and a dedicated search allow users quick and easy access to news, press releases, videos, pictures and more.

The new ERBER Group website is now available in English and German.

Have a look at the new website here: Opens external link in new window

Type News
news-479 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:05:00 +0100 Erich Erber honoured by receiving PhD hc from Kasetsart University In a dignified ceremony graced by the presence of HRH Princess Chulabhorn, a total of 2,450 students of Kasetsart University (Bangkok) received their degrees on Thursday, January 8th, 2015. Erich Erber, the founder of BIOMIN and Erber Group, was the sole recipient of the prestigious PhD hc from 2014. The university council had already decided on June 23rd, 2014, to award him the degree “Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Nutrition and Food Technology Honoris Causa”. BIOMIN and ERBER GROUP have collaborated with Kasetsart University for many years. Erich Erber has held talks at the campus and various trials and other research work have been jointly conducted. This fact and the overall contribution to the field of Thai agriculture and animal nutrition development led the university council to bestow the honorary degree. Kasetsart University, the oldest and largest agricultural university in Thailand, is also a talent pool from which BIOMIN Thailand is continuously able to tap. “I feel very proud of this recognition and honour bestowed by this title to my lifelong work in the improvement of animal and human nutrition. I am now a proud member of the KU alumni!” says Erich Erber about this distinction.

Type Press Releases
news-91 Wed, 04 Dec 2013 09:24:00 +0100 Groundbreaking ceremony for the new Erber Group Campus marks the first step for the new Romer Labs headquarter Romer Labs as part of the Erber Group begins its move to a new campus location in Getzersdorf, Austria with a groundbreaking ceremony on 13 Nov, 2013. December 04, 2013 - The town of Getzersdorf in Austria is set to claim its spot among Austria’s leading innovation centres for agro-biotechnology with the new Erber Group campus.

Situated about 75 kilometers west of Vienna, the township of Getzersdorf will house the new headquarters of the Erber AG. A groundbreaking ceremony on 13 Nov, 2013 marked the start of construction which is estimated to cost in the range of double-digit million euros.

Type Press Releases