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New FAO-TAMU programme on proficiency testing for aflatoxin analysis

Broadening Horizons N°23, November 2015

By Harinder Makkar, FAO, Rome Italy


As part of a continued commitment to feed laboratories’ analytical success through implementation of quality system, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Texas A&M (TAMU) are working together to deliver an aflatoxin proficiency testing programme. Proficiency testing is one of the BIG THREE in a laboratory quality system, along with traceability and uncertainty. Participation in proficiency testing programmes helps a laboratory assure the quality of test results (ISO 17025 5.9).

We recognize that few proficiency testing programmes are available for feed laboratories and participation is expensive. This programme helps address this gap. The participants will receive a proficiency sample twice during 2016. The programme is offered at no cost to participants. Initially, the proficiency testing will focus on total aflatoxin and/or aflatoxin B1 analysis.

Ground maize samples containing natural containing naturally occurring aflatoxin are prepared by the Office of the Texas State Chemist (OTSC) using a protocol contained in their standard operating procedure titled “Control Standard Production for the One Sample Strategy“. Their ISO 17025 accredited laboratory will also assist laboratories experiencing large variation by providing technical assistance at a distance.

Both the online course (http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/home/en/news_archive/2014_FAO-TAMU_E-learning_course.html ) and the proficiency testing programme are part of an FAO/TAMU effort to build a global feed laboratory network with the objectives of: quality test results; improved animal nutrition; and production of safe and affordable food including animal protein products.

Some important dates

  • Interested laboratories may please send the information sought in the Annex (attached file above) by 31 December 2015 to: Harinder.makkar@fao.org
  • Dispatch of samples to laboratories by 15 February 2016
  • Results to be sent to TAMU in a prescribed form (to be sent with the sample) by 31 March 2016
  • Report to individual laboratories by TAMU by  end April 2016