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Determining the Variability Associated with Testing Shelled Corn for Aflatoxin Using Different Analytical Procedures in Louisiana in 1998

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The number of elevator facilities with laboratories to test shelled corn for aflatoxin on site is increasing. The inherent difficulty in accurately determining the true aflatoxin concentration of a lot of corn may have serious implications. Deviations from the true value are of even greater significance at busy locations where a high throughput is desired. This study was instituted to measure (1) the differences in aflatoxin test results between elevator laboratories and the Louisiana Agricultural Chemistry (LAC) laboratory and (2) the variability in aflatoxin test results associated with sampling, sample preparation, and analysis of shelled corn at such locations. One hundred lots of shelled corn from 10 elevators in Louisiana were analyzed for aflatoxin using the Aflatest method (at elevators and at the LAC laboratory) and high-performance column liquid chromatography (HPLC; LAC laboratory only). Mean aflatoxin levels determined at elevator laboratories were significantly (P < 0.05) lower from those obtained in the LAC laboratory using the Aflatest method. Overall, Aflatest method results were lower than those obtained by HPLC. This difference may be attributed to analyst technical dexterity, difficulty in providing careful attention to detail in a high throughput environment, and/or substandard facilities found at elevators. The total variance was partitioned into the combined sampling plus subsampling variance and analytical variance. The sampling and sample preparation steps accounted for about 91.5% of the total variability. When using the HPLC analytical method, the analytical step contributed only 8.5% to the total variance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Department of Food Science, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; 20 Gettysburg North, Cabot, AR 72023; Division of Natural Products, Office of Plant and Dairy Foods, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD 20740. 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695. 3: Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Agricultural Chemistry Division, Baton Rouge, LA 70894. 4: Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Department of Food Science, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; Division of Natural Products, Office of Plant and Dairy Food, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD 20740.

Publication date: July 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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