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First certified reference materials for testing of presence/absence of a naturally occurring toxin

4 May 2016

JRC-IRMM developed and released the first certified reference materials for testing of the presence/absence of a naturally occurring toxin, namely Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin A (SEA) in a food matrix (cheese). This work was performed in close collaboration with the EU RL for Coagulase-Positive Staphylococci (ANSES, France)

 Staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs) account for a substantial number of food-poisoning outbreaks. For instance, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported in 2014 that bacterial toxins were involved in 843 of 5251 (16 %) food-poisoning outbreaks, and SEs were involved in 393 of those 843 notified outbreaks (46 %). SEA is the SE serotype most frequently involved in food-borne staphylococcal illnesses. Various foods such as cheeses, meat, eggs, and vegetables are affected, in the majority of instances due to inappropriate hygienic conditions during food processing, storage, or distribution. European legislation (Commission Regulation 1441/2007) stipulates the reference procedure for SE analysis in milk and dairy products, which is based on extraction, dialysis concentration and immunochemical detection using one of the approved assays. The results are expressed qualitatively ("sample contains/does not contain SEs"). 

The three new certified reference materials IRMM-359a-c (blank and two SEA-containing materials) were processed in accordance to ISO Guide 34 and characterised in an intercomparison of laboratories of demonstrated competence adhering to ISO/IEC 17025. The certified reference materials will provide support to laboratories for method validation and method performance verification and will increase the reliability of measuring SEA in cheese at sub ng/g levels. The certification report and the certificates can be found on the dedicated page of our online catalogue.

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