Recent research from Fera Science Ltd – the joint venture between the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs and Capita – has shown the advantages of using real food matrices for proficiency testing.
A team from Fapas, the proficiency testing centre based at Fera, has recently published a paper demonstrating that simple matrix tests will not reflect the types of samples that laboratories testing food samples actually receive and test in practice.
The paper – ‘Advantages of proficiency test items utilising real food matrices’, published in Euroreference – reviews a number of examples from a food analysis proficiency testing provider.
It demonstrates that the complexity of different types of testing carried out when analysing food samples means that real food matrices - more complex items that more closely resemble the actual food being tested on a day-to-day basis - are a more effective choice of testing material to compare results between laboratories.
Commenting on the research, lead-author Mark Sykes, a senior scientist at Fapas said: “Inter-laboratory comparison is a key tool to ensure that labs across the world are performing their tests correctly – it’s a vital judgement measure which ensures that scientists are working to shared standards and producing comparable results. When it comes to tests on food, laboratories routinely receive a huge variety of different food types for analysis, a simple matrix proficiency test item would be the most straightforward and widely used proxy.
However, the reality is that any simple matrix test will not reflect the types of samples that the laboratory actually receives and tests in practice, rendering comparisons less valid. Real food matrix test items – more complex items that more closely resemble the actual food being tested on a day-to-day basis – mean that the comparison can reflect the effect of critical method or preparation parameters in testing.”
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