Title: Log transformation of proficiency testing data on the content of genetically modified organisms in food and feed samples: is it justified?
Authors: BROOTHAERTS WIMCORDEIRO RAPOSO FERNANDOCORBISIER PHILIPPEROBOUCH PIOTREMONS HENDRIK
Citation: ANALYTICAL AND BIOANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY vol. 412 no. 5 p. 1129-1136
Publisher: SPRINGER HEIDELBERG
Publication Year: 2020
JRC N°: JRC117761
ISSN: 1618-2642 (online)
URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC117761
DOI: 10.1007/s00216-019-02338-4
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The outcome of proficiency tests (PTs) is influenced, among others, by the evaluation procedure chosen by the PT provider. In particular for PTs on GMO testing a log-data transformation is often applied to fit skewed data distributions into a normal distribution. The study presented here has challenged this commonly applied approach. The 56 data populations from proficiency testing rounds organised since 2010 by the European Union Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Food and Feed (EURL GMFF) were used to investigate the assumption of a normal distribution of reported results within a PT. Statistical evaluation of the data distributions, composed of 3178 reported results, revealed that 41 of the 56 datasets showed indeed a normal distribution. For 10 datasets, the deviation from normality was not statistically significant at the raw or log scale, indicating that the normality assumption cannot be rejected. The normality of the five remaining datasets was statistically significant after log-data transformation. These datasets, however, appeared to be multimodal as a result of technical/experimental issues with the applied methods. On the basis of the real datasets analysed herein, it is concluded that the log transformation of reported data in proficiency testing rounds is often not necessary and should be cautiously applied. It is further shown that the log-data transformation, when applied to PT results, favours the positive performance scoring for overestimated results and strongly penalises underestimated results. The evaluation of the participants’ performance without prior transformation of their results may highlight rather than hide relevant underlying analytical problems and is recommended as an outcome of this study.
JRC Directorate:Health, Consumers and Reference Materials

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