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LGC develops reference materials for the characterisation of selenium-enriched food products

03 Nov 2010

Characterisation of Se-enriched food products supports public safety

LGC, the UK’s designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurement, is supporting the food industry by producing a range of reference materials for the characterisation of selenium in bio-fortified foods.

Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element that occurs as a variety of chemical species. The amino acid selenomethionine (SeMet) is one such species and is a common, naturally occurring food source of selenium. Decline in the importation of Se-rich wheat flour from North America, for instance, is considered to have contributed to the substantial fall of selenium in the European diet. The production of Se-enriched wheat flour therefore offers an effective bio-fortified food for increased selenium intake.

However, such fortification needs to be managed carefully to ensure that the level and type of selenium present still remains safe to humans. It is therefore essential that Se-enriched food products can be characterised reliably. Reference materials are vital to support accurate measurement of selenium in such products.

Production of these reference materials calls for the use of validated reference methods, based on high accuracy quantification using isotope dilution mass spectrometry (IDMS). However, despite advances in quantitative speciation methodology, there is a lack of commercially available isotopically enriched SeMet species with which to perform this quantification. LGC has therefore developed an isotopically enriched selenomethionine reference material (76Se-enriched SeMet), providing an assessed value for the abundance of 76Se.

Commenting on the development of this new reference material, LGC’s Dr Heidi Goenaga-Infante, Principal Scientist in Mass Spectrometry, said: “LGC’s 76Se-enriched SeMet reference material is vital to ensure commercial selenium enrichment programmes are undertaken responsibly, without compromising public safety.”

The new reference material is a suitable spike material for IDMS and is available from LGC Standards, a supplier of over 100,000 products including reference materials, pharmaceutical impurity reference standards, biological standards and reagents. Certified reference materials for Se in wheat flour and yeast dietary supplement tablets are also in development at LGC.

For further details on this and other reference materials please contact, or visit