National Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins, Plant Toxins and Marine Biotoxins [NRL Toxines]

Last updated on 19-3-2018 by Daisy Tysmans
January 1, 2017
December 31, 2020

Service(s) working on this project

In short

As opposed to man-made chemicals, natural toxins are produced by living organisms such as plants, fungi (mycotoxins) or marine organisms. Natural toxins are found inherently in foods of plant and animal origins and can be harmful when consumed in sufficient quantities. In the interest of consumer health protection, it is essential that food and feed borne exposure is kept as low as possible. Our National Reference Laboratory for mycotoxins, plant and marine toxins provides scientific and analytical expertise and advice in support of the official controls performed by the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC).

Project summary

Our National Reference Laboratory for natural toxins has been assigned by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) in compliance with Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council dated 29 April 2004. Its major task is to collaborate with the Community reference laboratories of the EU (EURL) and to ensure the development and implementation of the referent analytical methods within its field of competence. This includes:

  • Transfer of information from the EU-RL to the national laboratories
  • Coordination and organisation of comparative testing between the officially (FASFC) approved laboratories
  • Support to the competent food and feed controlling authorities in the organization of the monitoring system and risk evaluation
  • Development and validation of analytical methods as well as support to the Official Control Laboratories (OCLs) for their implementation

The area of expertise of the NRL Toxins covers the analysis and risk evaluation of:

  • Mycotoxins: aflatoxin B1, total aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins B1 & B2 and T-2 & HT-2 toxin, citrinin, ergot alkaloids and alternaria
  • plant toxins: pyrolizidine and tropane alkaloids and others
  • marine toxins: Amnesic or Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxins (ASP&PSP), lipophilic group toxins
  • new emerging toxins e.g. Tetrodotoxin (TTX)

The NRL for toxins develops analytical approaches and validates them in-house. The referent tests are all accredited under ISO/IEC 17025:2005 by the Belgian Accreditation Council (BELAC). The NRL regularly organises comparative testing, ie proficiency tests (PT) for which it is accredited and produces its own reference materials for control of mycotoxins. PTs are mandatory for the OCLs assigned by the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) and enable them to assess their performance and improve the overall correctness of their analytical results. The NRL has also been granted a standardisation mandate from CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) for the development of a standardised method for the measurement of citrinin in red yeast rice based food supplements.

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