T-2 and HT-2 toxins are type-A trichothecene mycotoxins produced by different Fusarium species, including F. sporotrichioides, F. poae and F. acuminatum, that may develop on a variety of cereal grains especially in cold climate regions or during wet storage conditions. Several surveys have revealed the presence of these toxins in wheat, maize, oats, barley, rye, rice, beans, and soybean as well as in some cereal-based products.
Current analytical methods are not sensitive enough to accurately assess consumer exposure to these toxins. The aim of this project is to investigate a number of techniques in order to develop more sensitive methods to detect and quantify T2 and HT2 in cereals and cereal products.
It is intended that the successfully developed methods can be applied to surveys of cereals and cereal products, in order to aid the assessment of risks to consumers from T2 and HT2. This will also provide information to support the Agency’s position in EU negotiations on proposed limits. It is envisaged that this project will develop a method that can be used for enforcement purposes.
Three methods of analysis will be investigated and developed: Gas Chromatography with Mass Spectrometry detection (GC-MS), High Performance Liquid Chromatography with Florescence Detection (HPLC-FD) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry detection (HPLC-MS/MS). Different sample clean up methods will be investigated, and analytical parameters optimised to improve sensitivity. The methods will be validated for raw cereals (barley, maize, oats and wheat) and a selection of their products, selected to reflect UK consumption patterns. Methods will be assessed against performance criteria specified by European legislation for mycotoxins.
The work undertaken in this project has resulted in the development of three improved methods for the determination of T-2 and HT-2 in cereals and final food projects. All the methods achieved the required Limit of Quantification (LOQ) for the two trichothecene mycotoxins of 8 μg/kg for the combined toxins (5 μg/kg and 3 μg/kg for T-2 and HT-2 respectively) and all have been single laboratory validated in multiple matrices (raw wheat, maize, barley, oats and processed foods thereof).