Plus: LGC works with coconut yoghurt brand to detect rancid coconut cream

LGC looks at nanomaterials in food samples

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock/Sergey Khakimullin
Picture: iStock/Sergey Khakimullin

Related tags European union

LGC’s inorganic analysis team has been using the AF2000 Field Flow Fractionation (FFF) system coupled to Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to characterise nanomaterials in complex food samples.

Postnova Analytics said it has become important to characterise nanomaterials to understand their behaviour in contact with humans and the environment.

Nanomaterials are present in more than 1,300 foods and commercial products, added the firm.

The European Union (EU) defined a nanomaterial in 2011 and consulted on this definition last year​.

FFF the choice for matrix separation/sample fractionation

Dr Heidi Goenaga-Infante, principal scientist, leads the inorganic analysis team at LGC.

It has established expertise in size-based and number concentration analysis of nanomaterials using hyphenated techniques to support development of reference methods and materials, with field flow fractionation coupled to ICP-MS (FFF-ICP-MS) being part of the multi-modal analytical approach.

Dr Goenaga-Infante said over the past 15 years, FFF coupled to ICP-MS and other sizing detectors has proven a powerful tool for characterisation of nanomaterials.

For complex samples FFF seemed the ideal choice for matrix separation/sample fractionation, enabling us to achieve selective detection and characterisation of nanomaterials, that otherwise would have been hampered by the matrix components,” ​she said.

“We selected Postnova Analytics as our vendor of choice on the basis of their fast response to queries, scientific credibility and knowledgeable technical research assistance. The Postnova AF2000 system works robustly online when coupled with ICP-MS if a systematic approach is undertaken.”

The Postnova AF2000 ​is a FFF platform for separation of nanoparticles, macromolecules and proteins in complex matrices such as foodstuffs. It incorporates a range of FFF modules in a single integrated system to provide universal separation.

With its patented modular FFF - Light Scattering Platform, Postnova has provide systems for markets including biopharmaceuticals, polymers, materials, nanotechnology and environmental sciences.

The company's product portfolio includes Flow FFF, Centrifugal FFF, Thermal FFF, Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC), MALS and DLS Light Scattering

Postnova is headquartered in Landsberg am Lech, Germany and has subsidiaries in the US, UK and Finland.

Screening approach will avoid annual costs of £500k

Picture: iStock

Meanwhile, scientists at the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC have been working with the Coconut Collaborative Ltd (CCL), a coconut yoghurt brand in the UK and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The partnership is under the Innovate UK-funded ‘Analysis for Innovators’ (A4I) programme.

Malcolm Burns, principal scientist, molecular and cell biology at LGC, said: “LGC is pleased to have been able to work closely alongside CCL and STFC to help provide novel measurement support to ensure the continued maintenance of CCL product quality while also significantly reducing production costs.”

Tony Parker, STFC fellow, said: “This has been a great experience working with CCL and LGC, to be honest coconuts proved to be quite a tough nut to crack for us analytical chemists and I have learned a lot about the complexity of food and look forward to finding ways to continue our work.”

Supply specialists, engineers and scientists from CCL, STFC and LGC have been assessing the feasibility of using Raman spectroscopy and multispectral imaging for the past six months to detect traces of rancid coconut cream ahead of its use in production of coconut yoghurt.

Project results have demonstrated proof of principle for using multispectral imaging as the basis for an enhanced level of quality control and screening in CCL’s manufacturing plants.

The screening approach will avoid annual costs in excess of £500k through reduced production and material charges.

James Averdieck, managing director of CCL, said: “It has enabled us at a time when our core staff are stretched in supporting our strong organic growth, to work in a time efficient way with world class institutions and scientists to develop and prove a principle for solving a very unique but real rancidity measurement problem.”

Finally, Selvarani Elahi, Michael Walker and John Warren, from the UK Government Chemist team, attended a meeting on honey authentication at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre last month.

An EU Coordinated Control Plan on honey adulteration in 2015 found 38% of the 2,264 samples in the EU were non-compliant with authenticity criteria.

The meeting identified technical areas where further work and clarity would be beneficial for authentication of honey which will be revealed soon by the JRC.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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