The RIKILT Wageningen UR Institute (Food Safety) is based at Wageningen University in the heart of the Netherlands. It is an independent, non-profit research organization that focuses on all things food – from its composition, quality, and geographic origin to its authenticity and safety. Among RIKILT’s primary research activities are the detection and identification of food adulterants. These range from environmental contaminants such as heavy metals to manmade adulterants, including dioxin and pesticides to mycotoxins and antibiotics that find their way into in the food and animal feed supply chain.
As a National Reference Laboratory, RIKILT helps to ensure both the reliability and integrity of the nation’s official food labs. It also provides the Dutch government with food analysis, forensics, advice, and ongoing training on a wide spectrum of food and feed safety issues ranging from adulterant screening (remember the horsemeat scandal) to monitoring for pesticides in food.
Launching SAFE FOODS
Most Americans probably never heard of SAFE FOODS, at least not the version coordinated by RIKILT. A cooperative alliance of 37 research organizations from the EU, Russia, South Africa, and China, SAFE FOODS launched a multidisciplinary investigation into improving virtually every aspect food safety and risk assessment. It did so by integrating the best available technologies and methodologies for assessing and managing food risk issues on a Pan-European scale. Today, the legacy of SAFE FOODS is RIKILT’s unwavering commitment to serve as an ongoing catalyst in the evolution of food risk analysis.1
A Global Reference Point
RIKILT’s commitment to excellence continues to earn the Institute international praise as a global leader in analytical excellence. RIKILT is also leveraging its reputation as an innovative research and reference center on food by working closely with nongovernmental organizations, private businesses, international governments, and the European Union on a variety of policy-supporting tasks. Among these are RIKILT’s efforts to advance food metabolics using mass spectrometry chemical profiling as well as developing ongoing analytical methodologies to measure and predict the potential of new health and environmental risks associated with nanoparticles and emerging biotoxins.2
In line with its educational mission, RIKILT recently introduced a Single Particle Calculation Tool (SPC). The tool can be used with an ICP-MS to evaluate single particle ICP-MS data and is especially useful for the detection and characterization of nanoparticles.3
A Commitment to Training
RIKILT has taken a proactive approach to better understanding and sharing its extensive resources on the benefits and potential risks of nanoparticles in food and the environment. In June of 2015, the Institute hosted a hands-on training seminar on the detection and characterization of nanomaterials that included a review of current international legislation and training in the latest analytical techniques and application areas.4 Highlighted among these was practical experience in sample preparation using Single Particle ICP-MS (SP-ICP-MS), including PerkinElmer’s award winning NexION® 350 ICP-MS with SyngistixTM software, creating the world’s fastest SP-ICP-MS system.5 The new instrumentation allows RIKILT to analyze samples 10 times faster than in the past and the SP-ICP-MS method is currently in the process of becoming an ISO Technical Specification. RIKILT and PerkinElmer also co-hosted a training session on the new SP-ICP-MS instrumentation at Wageningen UR headquarters in Wageningen, NL, in June 2015.
1. SAFE FOODS - Promoting Food Safety through a New Integrated Risk Analysis Approach, European Food Information Council (EUFIC).
2. Your partner in top research, RIKILT Wageningen UR.
3. Single Particle Calculation Tool, RIKILT Wageningen UR.
4. Detection and characterisation of Nanomaterials in complex matrices, RIKILT Wageningen UR.
5. NexION 350 ICP-MS Brochure, PerkinElmer.