International standardization of an LC-MS/MS based food analytical method development of a generally accepted test procedure for Alternaria toxins

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Tölgyesi Ádám

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There are more than seventy varieties of Alternaria toxins, but researchers have so far identified only a few of them structurally. The objective of this paper is to present a nearly ten-year process, during which an international standard for the simultaneous analysis of five Alternaria toxins in food samples was developed. This long process includes the development of the need for the standard and, in addition to the preparation and evaluation of the standardization tender, the development of the method, its validation and documentation. The paper focuses mainly on the development and validation of the analytical method, which is the longest and most labor-intensive part of the process, but in order to understand the overall picture, it is also necessary to emphasize the first and final steps. The development of a standard is a task of great responsibility for both the preparers of the standard and those involved in the validation and documentation of the standard, as the use of standardized methods is expected by the customers of the laboratories. On the other hand, laboratories that choose unique, self-developed methods can ascertain the accuracy and precision of their procedure by comparing them with the standard method. In this process that went on for nearly ten years, the original analytical method underwent several changes; the goal of these improvements was to make the procedure as simple and reproducible as possible. This is how the use isotope dilution mass spectrometry was reached through derivatization. It is important to emphasize that one of the goals of standardization is to have an appropriate analytical method available to authority laboratories for the testing of legally prescribed food contaminants, which procedure is available to any laboratory, however, it is questionable, whether the cost of the test covers its application. Consequently, it is not necessarily the most cost-effective analysis which is recommended by the standard, which may be the cause of conflict between the professional and economic managers of a laboratory in the case of private laboratories. The final form of the liquid chromatography/isotope dilution mass spectrometry (LC-IDMS) standard method developed for Alternaria toxins is likely to be approved and published by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) in the end of 2021 (the standard has been issued since the article was submitted: CEN EN 17521:2021 Foodstuffs - Determination of Alternaria toxins in tomato, wheat and sunflower seeds by SPE clean-up and HPLC-MS/MS. The Editor). The standard will contain the determination of tenuazonic acid (TEA), altenuane (ALT), alternariol (AOH), tentoxin (TEN) and alternariol monomethyl ether (AME).

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Tölgyesi, Ádám. (2023). International standardization of an LC-MS/MS based food analytical method: development of a generally accepted test procedure for Alternaria toxins. Élelmiszervizsgálati Közlemények, 68(1), 3725–3733. https://doi.org/10.52091/EVIK-2022/1-1-ENG
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