Protecting Pets from the Threat of Mycotoxins
Pet Food companies worldwide are working towards constantly improving and maximising the quality of their product. The problematic topic of mycotoxin contamination in pet feed is quickly becoming a major cause for concern. This is due to the risk they pose for animal health and with the increasing prevalence of mycotoxins globally the focus is on pet food companies to meet EU and FDA regulations and maximise the quality of their product.
What are Mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are naturally occurring metabolites that are produced by certain moulds and with the ability to develop and grow on a variety of crops they can affect large amounts of feed and increasingly, pet food. If a sample tests positive even for low levels of contamination the toxins are still strong enough to cause illness in animals, and if low levels are consumed over a long period of time this can result in chronic illnesses including; cancer, organ damage and neurological disorders.
The main mycotoxins of concern in pet food are;
- Deoxynivalenol (DON)
- Fumonisins (FUM)
- Zearalenone (ZEN)
- T-2 Toxin
Contamination can occur in any country around the world and at any stage of production. Herein lies the issue of how to prevent mycotoxin pollution, to tackle the issue head on and work towards a mycotoxin free product is the joint responsibility of feed producers, supply chain partners and quality control laboratories ensuring the complete safety of the product.
How can you tell if an animal has ingested pet food contaminated with mycotoxins?
In terms of animal health, mycotoxins can cause a variety of problems. Severity and symptoms can vary from animal to animal but general symptoms include; hyperactivity, vomiting, high temperature and loss of coordination. If you suspect your pet has been affected by mycotoxins you must bring them to the vet for immediate treatment.
The European Union currently regulate all the mycotoxins listed above and are subject to maximum or recommended residue limits. In the US, FDA regulations are limited to aflatoxins, DON and fumonisins, see table below for FDA regulations. If mycotoxin levels in feed fail to meet FDA standards, mass amounts of feed may need to be destroyed as grain producers are prohibited from mixing contaminated feed with clean feed to reduce the mycotoxin levels.
|Immature Animals||Aflatoxins||Corn/ peanut/ other ingredients||20 ppb|
|Adult Pets||Aflatoxins||Corn/ peanut/ cottonseed meal/ other ingredients||20 ppb|
|DON||Grain/ grain byproducts, not to exceed 40% of diet||5 ppm|
|Fumonisins||Corn/ corn byproducts, not to exceed 50% of the diet||10 ppm|
How do we tackle the problem?
Safe, reliable screening solutions for different variations of mycotoxins are available that can ensure only mycotoxin free feed is produced. Randox Food Diagnostics have created mycotoxin screening platforms as a response to increased levels of mycotoxins being found in feed globally.
The platforms use patented Biochip Array Technology (BAT) so pet food producers can test for multiple toxins from a single sample. Randox Food Diagnostics have a range of mycotoxin Biochip Arrays available with customised arrays available to suit the specific screening needs of certain producers. Each Biochip format uses a straightforward extraction process with a 50µl sample of feed, available tests include; Fumonisins, Ochratoxin A, Aflatoxin G1/G2, Aflatoxin B1, Paxiline, Ergot Alkaloids, Diacetoxyscirpenol, Deoxynivalenol, T2 Toxin and Zearalenone.
For more information on mycotoxin screening with Randox Food Diagnostics contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Some laboratory professionals believe that using Internal Quality Control (IQC) and External Quality Assurance (EQA, also known as Proficiency Testing) material from the same provider can lead to increased levels of qc bias, or that their test system will not be appropriately challenged. It is important to address these concerns, because some labs may in fact be hindering their own performance by using IQC and EQA material from different sources.
It is important to first understand how IQC and EQA work together to help form a complete Laboratory Quality Management System.
IQC and EQA in Laboratory Quality Management
IQC is a means of monitoring test system precision on a daily basis. IQC effectively evaluates test system performance over time, so that any sudden or gradual shifts in performance can be detected. However, while IQC is an effective performance monitor, it cannot detect more intricate problems like calibration errors or wide acceptable limits provided by some QC manufacturers.
EQA is essential for challenging test system accuracy, and is carried out less frequently than IQC testing. EQA samples are tested ‘blind’ and the results are returned to the scheme organiser. As EQA testing compares an individual lab’s performance to other labs using the same method and instrument, it is a very effective tool for identification of potential issues.
Is there any disadvantage to using IQC and EQA material from the same provider?
The answer to this question depends primarily on the source material of the IQC and EQA. If an IQC provider manufactures their material using artificial additives or components of animal origin, then it will not be suitable to use EQA material from the same provider. Westgard (2011) maintains that using non-commutable IQC or EQA material can lead to results becoming compromised due to matrix effects – something which would not happen using commutable controls.
For example, with Immunoassay testing, non-human components of IQC material interact with antibodies in the reagent in a different way to fully human patient samples – ultimately giving unpredictable shifts, and not adhering to the ISO 15189 requirement to: “use quality control materials that react to the examining system in a manner as close as possible to patient samples”.
However, if the IQC and EQA material is manufactured using a source material which is similar in composition to patient samples (100% human), this commutable control will adequately mimic patient sample performance; meaning labs can use EQA and IQC material from the same provider with confidence that the integrity of their results is maintained.
ISO 15189 also states: “Use of independent third party control materials should be considered…”. In this instance, ‘Independent’ does not mean from a separate provider. It means that the QC material should not be optimized for use on one specific instrument (i.e. not dependent on a single instrument/method type).
No regulatory body states a requirement to use different providers for IQC and EQA material. Indeed, using IQC from one provider and EQA from another provider could increase the risk of labs using non-commutable material.
Labs should use commutable IQC and EQA material for a true assessment of their test system. Randox QC and RIQAS EQA are specifically designed with commutability in mind, giving labs a control which reflects patient sample performance and ensures excellent performance.
How can we help?
To learn how Randox can offer a complete solution for your laboratory, follow the links below or submit a question using the form above.
Westgard, S. (2011). Is QC Quality Compromised?. Available: https://www.westgard.com/qc-quality-compromised.htm. Last accessed 31st October 2017.
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World Diabetes Day
With World Diabetes Day on Tuesday 14th November 2017, we take a look at what diabetes is and why quality control is so important.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a life-long condition which occurs when the glucose level in the blood is too high because it can’t enter the body’s cells to be used as fuel. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. They are distinct conditions and must be treated and managed differently.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type one diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks insulin-producing cells, this causes a lack of insulin, leading to an increased blood glucose level. Around 10% of people with diabetes has type 1.
Type 2 Diabetes
A mixture of genetic and environmental factors causes type 2 diabetes. The body doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin it does create does not work correctly, leading to a glucose build up in the blood. It’s thought that up to 58% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through healthy lifestyle choices.
Role of Quality Control
Quality control plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate and reliable diabetes monitoring. 70% of medical decisions are based on a laboratory test result and QC is vital in ensuring the results the laboratory report are both accurate and reliable.
Want to know what makes a good HbA1c control? Read on to find out.
Clinically Relevant Levels
In the diagnosis of diabetes, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in blood provides an indication of average blood glucose levels in the previous three months. HbA1c is the recommended standard of care for type 2 diabetes monitoring. HbA1c is measured using the range below:
HbA1c – Clinically Relevant Levels
|Normal||Below 42 mmol/mol||Below 6.0%|
|Prediabetes||42 to 47 mmol/mol||6.0% to 6.4%|
|Diabetes||48 mmol/mol or over||6.5% or over|
It is important to assess the full clinical range of an assay, i.e. the range between the lowest and highest results which can be reliably reported. 48 mmol/mol is the cut-off for diabetes diagnosis, it is crucial that this can be measured accurately because any inaccuracy could mean the difference between being diagnosed and treated and not.
In terms of accreditation, ISO 15189:2012 states, ‘The laboratory should choose concentrations of control materials wherever possible, especially at or near clinical decision values, which ensure the validity of decisions made’.
Benefits of Third Party Controls
The importance of third party controls is evident. Third party controls can help identify instrument, reagent, and procedural errors. Unchecked these errors could lead to incorrect patient results, further leading to misdiagnosis.
Third party quality control material has not been designed or optimised for use with any instrument, kit, or method. This complete independence enables the quality control material to closely mirror the performance of patient samples, and in doing so, provide an unbiased, independent assessment of analytical performance across multiple platforms.
Again, in terms of accreditation, ISO 15189 states – “use of independent third party control material should be considered, either instead of, or in addition to, any control materials supplied by the reagent or instrument manufacturer.”
Many laboratories perform HbA1c testing on a dedicated machine and as a result, are not always using a third party control.
Wastage is a common issue when running HbA1c due to the pre-treatment step required for many HbA1c controls and poor stability of some controls on the market. Look out for controls with an extended open vial stability to help reduce waste and keep costs low.
How can Randox help?
To help you get your QC in check for World Diabetes Day, Randox Acusera HbA1c control contains both HbA1c and Total Haemoglobin, with a reconstituted stability of 4 weeks to reduce waste and reduce costs. To find out more about our HbA1c control visit the page using the button below or fill out the form above.
World Heart Day – 29th September – Introduction
This year (29th September 2017) join us as we help to raise awareness for World Heart Day! The theme for this year’s World Heart Day is to share the power – and you know what they say… “Knowledge is Power” so throughout this blog we will be providing vital knowledge as well as tips to having a healthy heart!
The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood around the body and is indeed central to your circulatory system. The system consists of a network of blood vessels, including, veins, arteries and capillaries. These vessels transport blood – as well as carrying oxygen and other important nutrients – to every part of the body. Ensuring a healthy heart is therefore vital.
What is CVD?
When too much pressure is put on our hearts we start to run into some issues – the general term for conditions affecting the heart is Cardiovascular Disease – better known as CVD. The exact cause of CVD is far from clear, with many factors increasing your chances of developing CVD. These risk factors can include, but are not limited to, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, being overweight or in many cases, can be hereditary.
It is important to note that Cardiovascular Disease is accountable for nearly half of all non-communicable disease (NCD) deaths, therefore making it the number one killer across the globe! Scary thought considering there are a whopping 17.3 million CVD related deaths per year – including stroke and heart disease. Understanding CVD in today’s society is more important than ever before, we need to know the truth about CVD and be able to decipher the facts from the fiction. Below you can see a few examples of common misconceptions regarding CVD and also some that are indeed true.
Only older men can get heart disease/CVD
Cardiovascular Disease can develop before birth
Exercising won’t help if you’re genetically predisposed to CVD
Low and middle-income countries are the most susceptible to CVD
It is estimated that by 2030 the number of deaths, due to CVD, will rise to an enormous 23 million globally! However, by raising awareness of the critical numbers and facts we can all help prevent CVD by making small, simple lifestyle changes.
Tips for a Healthy Heart
Using our “art into heart” graphic below, we decided to outline some of our Randox QC top tips for staying healthy! Why not try some of them and feel the effects of having a happy, healthy heart!
This World Heart Day, join us and many more around the world, to raise awareness for this great cause and unite together to “Share the Power”.