Title: Report on the 2017 Proficiency Test of the European Union Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins: determination of ergot alkaloids in rye
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC109603
ISBN: 978-92-79-77126-2 (pdf)
ISSN: 1831-9424 (online)
Other Identifiers: EUR 28946 EN
OP KJ-NA-28946-EN-N (online)
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC109603
DOI: 10.2760/166263
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: Throughout history, there have been several deadly episodes of food poisoning by ergot alkaloids (EAs) (known as St. Anthony’s fire or ergotism). EAs are secondary metabolites produced by fungi of the Claviceps genus (chiefly Claviceps purpurea), which are common pathogens of cereals and pasture grasses. During harvest, the fungal body is collected together with the crop leading to the contamination of cereal based food and feed products. Although this event is highly attenuated nowadays by the physical cleaning techniques in the mills, the detection of EAs in food and feed commodities is not infrequent. Since 2002, the EU legislation (Directive 2002/32/EC) sets up the maximum content for rye ergot (sclerotia) in all feed containing unground cereals. However, the visual determination of sclerotia in cereals is often inaccurate. Moreover, this visual determination is impossible in processed food and feed. Additionally, the pattern of EAs levels in relation to fungal strains, geographical distribution and host plant is not fully known and they cannot be directly related to the sclerotia amount visually determined. The Commission Recommendation 2012/154/EU additionally recommends the monitoring of the presence of individual EAs in feed and food by chemical analytical methods. A proficiency test (PT) was organised by the European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Mycotoxins targeting the determination of the most prominent EAs in Claviceps purpurea: ergometrine, ergotamine, ergosine, ergocristine, ergocryptine and ergocornine and their related –inine epimers, as listed in the above Recommendation. The levels in the rye test material varied from 116 (ergometrine/inine) to 752 µg/kg (ergocristine/inine). Thirty-seven laboratories, among them 26 National Reference Laboratories for mycotoxins in food and feed from 21 EU Member States plus Iceland and Norway, and 11 Official Control Laboratories participated in the PT. The rating of the laboratories' performance was done by means of z-scores considering the sum of the -ine/-inine pairs of epimers with respect to the values assigned at the JRC-Geel and a pt of 22 %. Ninety one percent of the results were classified as satisfactory (|z| ≤ 2), while 3.7 % fell into the unsatisfactory range (|z| ≥ 3). All the results received for ergocornine/inine were satisfactory, whereas 76 and 86 % of the results for -ergocryptine/inine and ergometrine/inine, respectively, were classified as satisfactory. Despite the overall good performance of the laboratories analysing EAs in the test item, this PT highlighted the need to seek a harmonised approach for quantifying a- and β-ergocryptine/inine, as currently only the a-isomers of this EA type are available as pure reference materials.
JRC Directorate:Health, Consumers and Reference Materials

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