Advancements in mycotoxin testing technology have produced the next generation of tests that are more safe for testers to use, and easier to perform when testing the same sample for more than one mycotoxin.
The newest tests have replaced the extraction solvent, methanol or ethanol, with a water-based solvent, which eliminates the need for the shipping, handling, and disposal of hazardous materials when testing for mycotoxins. These tests will also enable the use of a common sample extract for analyzing multiple mycotoxins, including aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), ochratoxin, fumonisin, T-2/HT-2 toxin, and zearalenone.
“Eliminating hazardous materials from the testing process has been a goal of the mycotoxin testing industry since we first started offering testing kits to grain producers and processors, now more than 30 years ago,” says Pat Frasco, Neogen’s sales director for the milling and grain markets. “Until recently, the cost of having a very quick and accurate mycotoxin test system in your grain facility included all that goes into using methanol or ethanol—from the potential exposure of your testing staff, to the maintenance of safety data sheets, and everything else. We can now replace the hazardous materials used in the extraction—without compromising the accuracy of the tests’ results.”
This next generation of mycotoxin tests that use water-based extractions also incorporate useful features of the previous generations, including the ability to create fully quantitative, permanent, and traceable results from easy-to-use lateral flow test strips.
For those who require high-throughput testing systems, tests that use water-based extraction methods in microwell formats are also available. Such microwell testing systems enable the testing of up to 20 samples at a time without using automated equipment.
The newest mycotoxin strip tests feature extraction and testing procedures as simple as:
- Obtain and grind a representative sample; place a subsample in a cup.
- Add an environmentally friendly extraction additive to the sample.
- Add water to the cup.
- Shake, let settle, filter, and add diluent.
- Place portion of diluted sample in a sample cup, and allow the sample to wick up the test strip.
- Read strip in a test strip reader to produce a permanent and traceable test result.
- Dispose of all test materials as you would with any non-hazardous materials.
“The evolution of the technology of mycotoxin testing has been quite dramatic, even within the professional lives of many of the grain testing customers we’ve worked with over the years,” says Frasco. “If you started in the 1980s, thin-layer chromatography was the recognized test of choice for mycotoxins, which was followed by advancing forms of high-performance liquid chromatography and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, or ELISAs. While chromatographic techniques do have certain advantages, they remain laboratory-based tests that require a considerable amount of skill and instrumentation to operate.
“Advancements in ELISA technology have allowed mycotoxin testing to be performed by anyone who could benefit from knowing the grain’s test results, and testing personnel without extensive education or experience,” he continues. “Taking hazardous materials out of the testing process is another step toward making the tests as accessible as they can possibly be to whomever may benefit from their results.”
Testing for Multiple Mycotoxins
Another recent advancement in mycotoxin testing technology is the ability to test for multiple mycotoxins from the same, common sample extract. What that means is that after technicians prepare a sample for testing, they could test the same sample for up to six mycotoxins—without repeating the sample preparation process.
Testing for multiple mycotoxins from a common sample extract eliminates the need to store and manage multiple extraction additives, and eliminates the need to repeatedly shake, settle, and filter the same sample over and over.