Determination of T-2 and HT-2 toxins in food and feed: an update

Krska, R.; Malachova, A.; Berthiller, F.; Egmond, H.P. van


Based on the recent scientific opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain on the risks to human and animal health related to the presence of T-2 and HT-2 toxins in food and feed that was published by EFSA in the EFSA Journal, this article provides an update on the determination of these Fusarium mycotoxins. After a brief introduction into the chemistry of these toxins, both chromatographic and immuno-analytical methods are discussed for the determination of these type A trichothecenes. During the last decade, liquid chromatography with (tandem) mass spectrometry has become the most frequently used method for the determination of T-2 and HT-2 toxins, often within a multi-analyte approach. However, complex matrices and the resulting signal suppression effects, as observed particularly in electrospray-mass spectrometry methods owing to matrix effects, may require careful optimisation of clean-up, usage of matrix matched standards, or e.g. the use of internal standards. For specific purposes where extremely low limits of quantification are needed, e.g. for the analysis of duplicate diets, a dedicated gas chromatography method with multistage mass spectrometry has become available. Other novel analytical approaches to determine T-2 and HT-2 toxins in food and feed include biosensor-based methods in surface plasmon resonance and electrochemical formats, as well as DNA microchip assays. For rapid screening, several immunochemical methods (mostly ELISAs) have become available and some are sold as commercial test kits. Whereas these methods work fast, cross-reactivities with other trichothecenes can have an undesired effect on their accuracy. While proficiency tests including T-2 and HT-2 toxins have been carried out, none of the chromatographic or immunochemical methods have been formally validated in interlaboratory validation studies. There are no certified reference materials available for T-2 and HT-2 toxins.