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LGC helps to ensure safer fortified foods

24 Aug 2011
Tags:  Food

LGC develops new wheat flour reference material to ensure well characterised selenium-enriched foods

Foods and vitamin supplements enriched with the trace element selenium can offer significant health benefits. However, it is essential that the correct amount and type (species) of selenium is present in order for these fortified food products to be safe for human consumption. To help ensure accurate characterisation of selenium-enriched wheat products and supplements, LGC, the UK’s designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurement has developed the first speciated certified reference material for selenium-enriched wheat flour.

Selenium is necessary for good human health, with a range of benefits from antioxidant defence to the maintenance of good thyroid function. Research* has also suggested a possible link between selenium deficiency and cancer. However, the decline in the importation of naturally selenium-rich wheat flour from Canada and the United States and its replacement by locally grown wheat (which is naturally low in selenium), is reported to have contributed to the substantial reduction of selenium in the European diet**.
The production of selenium-enriched foods and supplements, such as selenium-enriched wheat flour, offers an effective route to increase our selenium intake. The uptake and metabolism by the human body of selenium is dependent on its chemical species and there is a fine line between beneficial levels and toxic levels.

Produced under the accreditation ISO Guide 34 for the production of reference materials, LGC’s new wheat flour matrix certified reference material enables an accurate assessment of the selenium content of food that has been enriched with selenium.

For consumers this new development will increase the integrity of the significant health benefit claims made for bio-fortified foods. It will also satisfy the requirements of suppliers seeking to distribute selenium-enriched food.

Dr Cathal Connolly, Senior Applications Chemist from Alltech, who was seconded to LGC to gain in-depth knowledge on selenium speciation methodology in food, commented: “The availability of low concentration certified reference materials with specified levels of certain selenium species is a very welcome development. The wheat flour reference material offered by LGC will be of great interest to many research groups working in this area.”

Heidi Goenaga-Infante, LGC’s Principal Scientist in Mass Spectrometry said: “LGC’s new reference material, characterised by inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry and isotope dilution mass spectrometry, offers a new, effective tool for the validation of methods to ensure selenium fortification is responsible and protects public health.”

This reference material (wheat flour - selenium and selenomethionine ERM - BC210a) is available from LGC Standards (www.lgcstandards.com), the division of LGC that provides products and services to improve measurement in the laboratory. For prices and ordering information, please email: uksales@lgcstandards.com or call +44 (0)20 8943 8480.

* Selenium in cancer prevention: a review of the evidence and mechanism of action, M. P. Rayman, The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 64(4), 527-42, 2005
** The importance of selenium to human health, M. P. Rayman, The Lancet, 356(9225), 233 - 241, 2000