Reference materials will help labs have confidence in results - LGC

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Meat mixtures will enable labs assess the quality of measurements
Meat mixtures will enable labs assess the quality of measurements

Related tags Meat

LGC has developed six meat mixture reference materials to help protect consumers from food fraud.

The firm said the materials help labs have confidence in their results and helps authorities compare results from different labs.  

Materials include pure chicken, turkey and sheep meat together with more meat mixtures.

It follows meat materials that were released in March 2013 which included pure horse meat, pure beef and pure pork, plus mixtures of those meats produced in response to the horse meat incident.

QA/QC procedure

Liam Gormley, food and environment product manager, said reference materials are used as part of laboratories overall QA/QC procedures.

“In addition to the preparation of a material, a number of experiments need to be undertaken and results evaluated before a reference material is fit for use and can be released for sale," ​he told FoodQualityNews.

“This ensures that the material is correctly characterised, the intended use is specified, and factors such as homogeneity and stability are evaluated and documented.”  

They were analysed using DNA sequencing, a PCR based method and an immunoassay method to confirm the expected meat species in the samples and absence of species cross-contamination.

The limit of detection is below 1% of one meat species in the presence of another.

Reference materials can be used in method validation, training and competency demonstration.

The reference materials are 5% w/w beef in sheep meat, 1% w/w beef in sheep meat, 5% w/w turkey in sheep meat, 1% w/w turkey in sheep meat, 5% w/w chicken in sheep meat and 1% w/w chicken in sheep meat.

Underpinning analysis

Reference materials underpin analysis in food safety and fraud, said Gormley.

“Laboratories undertaking analysis to detect food fraud need to demonstrate that the methodology they use is fit for purpose, fully validated and working within acceptable parameters on a day to day basis," ​he said. 

“The use of reference materials by laboratories enables them to achieve this and enables them to monitor the performance of methods over time.  It ensures that the laboratory can have confidence in the results that they are reporting. 

“For authorities, their use means that results from different laboratories can be considered comparable.”

Gormley said they were developed to support testing in meat authenticity.

“The possibility of contamination and fraud with respect to the authenticity of meat means that speciation testing will continue to be required by food producers, retailers and authorities,” ​he said.

“Good planning and implementation of testing programs, including intelligence from a range of sources is required in order to provide the best chance of predicting the next food safety issue. 

“Horizon scanning for potential testing requirements is included when planning the production of new materials.”

FAPAS reference materials

Meanwhile, FAPAS, the proficiency testing division of Fera, launched 14 reference materials last month.

It said the move was in response to analytical laboratories demanding a greater range of matrix-matched reference materials for their quality assurance, method validation and training.

They include reference materials for matrixes including breakfast cereal, canned meat, milk powder, paprika and tomato paste.

Related topics Food safety & quality

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