For laboratories carrying out routine mycotoxin analysis and running large numbers of samples every day, it makes good sense to investigate the possibility of automation. Novel reusable immunoaffinity cartridges containing monoclonal antibodies coupled to a pressure resistant polymer (IMMUNOPREP® ONLINE immunoaffinity cartridge) enable automated analysis of mycotoxins when used in conjunction with a RIDA®CREST automated handling system.
The system has been validated in two independent laboratories for the routine monitoring of aflatoxin in peanuts, maize, paprika, nutmeg and dried figs with the findings being recently published in the Journal of AOAC International.
Recoveries exceeded 80% for both aflatoxin B1 and total aflatoxins, and repeatability ranged from 2.1 to 9.6% for aflatoxin B1 for six levels spanning EU regulatory limits in the five matrixes. A consistent high performance in a 10 min run-time was demonstrated with the IAC being used up to 15 times without any reduction in recovery. The performance of each cartridge is apparent as the standard is applied to each cartridge, and calibration in this way allows for corrected recovery to be automatically calculated.
Automating analysis of mycotoxins offers a number of advantages to the analyst including:
- Cost reduction: Cost reduction can be up to 30 % as a result of reduced labour costs, reduction in consumable costs, less depreciation of hardware, lower solvent usage, lower waste disposal costs and lower freight costs.
- Time saving: Time saving of approximately 23 minutes per sample, compared to offline automated immunoaffinity as a result of less labour time taken per sample, increased sample throughput and greater efficiency in use of technician‘s time.
- Improved quality assurance: Minimal sample re-analysis because every cartridge is automatically quality controlled with a standard and QC sample / method blank being passed through the same IMMUNOPREP® ONLINE cartridge prior to analysis of a series of samples. Increased automation means reduced human error. Requirements of ISO 17025 regarding “Improvement“and “Corrective Action“ are met.
- Traceability: Fewer manual steps means lower chance of faults, losses and errors between sample arrival, extraction, analysis and reporting of results.
- Accuracy: Improved reproducibility through automation (standardized processes).
- Improved efficiency: Automation allows the system to run overnight, increasing the sample throughput.
At present IMMUNOPREP® ONLINE cartridges are available for aflatoxin and ochratoxin with cartridges for DON, aflatoxin M1 and zearalenone being available in 2016/2017 to extend the range of automation available for mycotoxin analysis and to make life even easier for the analyst.