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Dear customers,

With our new issue of IKB aktuell, we are informing you today about important changes in the market as well as news from Institut Kirchhoff Berlin.

You can expect 

  • News from the specialist areas of contaminants, water, microbiology, molecular biology
  • Innovation and development of our analysis spectrum

If you would like to register for our new fortnightly newsletter on alert management, please send us a short message to or contact your customer and project manager, mentioning "Registration for Alert Management Newsletter" in the subject line.

We wish you a healthy and successful new year 2022 and hope you enjoy reading our newsletter!
For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Institute Kirchhoff Berlin GmbH
Kerstin Bernhart
Head of Sales & Marketing


Monitoring Management and Early Warning System for Legionella

Legionella bacteria are found in all types of water, such as drinking water, cooling water or bathing water. They live well hidden with other bacteria in biofilms, multiply within other protozoa, the amoebae, or remain in the so-called VBNC status (downregulation of metabolism). These survival strategies not only make it difficult to combat them with disinfectants, but also to detect them in the laboratory. Aerosols containing Legionella are dangerous when inhaled by humans.
By means of Legionella qPCR analysis, we are able to obtain fast and reliable results after only a few hours, unlike the classical cultural detection methods (ISO 11731), which are fraught with greater uncertainties.
And not only in the event of a crisis, but also during the regular inspection of your system. Legionella qPCR analysis is particularly recommended for monitoring sampling points and early detection of possible contamination.

Matrices: drinking, bathing and process water
Info flyer: Legionella qPCR
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Nutritional values, ingredients

New reference framework for steviol glycosides

Steviol glycosides were officially approved as a food additive in Europe on 02.12.2011 and are labelled with the E-number 960. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended an ADI of 4 mg/kg body weight/day. Furthermore, the European Commission (Regulation No. 1131/2011) has prescribed maximum levels for a large number of foods. These maximum amounts do not refer to the individual glycosides, but to steviol equivalents. These are calculated from the steviol glycosides with the help of special conversion factors.
New developments in the extraction of stevia allow the production of steviol glycoside, which has a lower bitter aftertaste, a better sensory profile and a purer taste, more similar to sugar. It is extracted from the stevia leaf, more specifically the stevia leaf extract. Steviol glycosides are produced by bioconversion and steviol glycosides by fermentation. The international food standards body Codex Alimentarius has adopted a framework for steviol glycosides, which accordingly includes four production technologies. It ensures that companies can place steviol glycosides produced with the above technologies on the market without having to submit new dossiers, provided they meet the established criteria and specifications. This is based on the review of the production technology, which ensures that the highest level of safety, purity and quality is achieved for the final steviol glycoside ingredient that is placed on the market.
Please refer to the FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) specification monograph.

Matrices: Dairy products, confectionery, sprinkled sweeteners and sweeteners
Analytes: stevioside, rebaudioside
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Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, new limits expected in July 2022

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are secondary metabolites synthesised by a variety of plants as a defence mechanism against insects. Currently, more than 600 such molecules are known, mainly from the Boraginaceae, Asteraceae and Fabaceae families. Due to their harmful potential, especially 1,2-unsaturated PAs are undesirable in food due to a possible genotoxic and carcinogenic effect. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the total exposure of consumers to genotoxic and carcinogenic PAs from food should be kept as low as possible.
From July 2022, new limits for PA content in tea, herbal tea, food supplements with herbal ingredients, pollen, herbs and caraway seeds will apply. The maximum levels refer to the sum of 21 PAs and N-oxides as well as 14 other isomers.
We have developed an LC-MS/MS-based method for the reliable measurement of the new maximum levels. Thanks to the analysis with a highly sensitive mass spectrometer and a simplified sample preparation, the method enables sensitive, reliable and fast PA analyses.

Matrices: coffee, tea, herbs/spices
Analysis time: 7 working days, 3-day rush service 
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11.7-43.4% prevalence of MRSA zoonoses in meat

A zoonosis monitoring of the Federal Government and the Laender determined a prevalence of 11.7-43.4% of MRSA zonoosis in meat. Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem today. Reports about e.g. methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) find their way into the media at regular intervals. Staphylococcus aureus is a coloniser of the skin found in about 30% of people and is normally harmless. It only becomes problematic when the carrier's immune system is weakened. Treatment is usually with ß-lactam antibiotics, such as penicillins or cephalosporins. However, these antibiotics are ineffective against the methicillin-resistant variant (MRSA). In recent years, it is increasingly assumed that transmission from farm animals to humans takes place. Even though only a few cases are known so far in which food (raw meat) was the source of human infection, they should nevertheless not be neglected. Zoonosis monitoring by the federal and state governments identified turkey, chicken, pork and veal as affected meats. The first step in combating zoonoses such as MRSA consists of consistent monitoring. This makes it possible to observe the spread of MRSA, initiate measures to reduce it and check their effectiveness. We offer both the examination for coag. pos. Staphylococcus aureus as well as their further identification as an MRSA strain. MRSA is detected by detecting the resistance-conferring genes using real-time PCR. Please feel free to consult our experts on this topic.

Matrices: Meat
Parameters: Coag. pos. Staphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus
Method: Real-time PCR
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Risk-benefit assessments of food: Edible insects as a substitute for red meat

Identifying sources of contamination quickly - The digital solution for modern environmental monitoring
Thorough and efficient monitoring of operational hygiene and the production environment through food safety plans or HACCP programmes is becoming increasingly important in the context of food safety risk management. The analysis of contamination pathways in connection with outbreaks of pathogenic germs has shown exactly how important this environmental monitoring is. With EnviroMap, we offer a digital solution to support your laboratory management and the monitoring of your production environment. On the one hand, you save a lot of time when planning sampling and, on the other, you benefit from the software's diverse query functions. The data generated in this way represents real added value for your environmental monitoring and thus for food safety.
You can also find a comprehensive overview on the topic of environmental monitoring in the current publication with the collaboration of our colleague Christoph Dufour, Mérieux NutriSciences France. Here, the essential elements of a programme for monitoring the production environment as well as the relevant microorganisms are considered.
Read the entire publication

Molecular biology

GMO-positive findings in seeds

Although there is a national ban on the cultivation of genetically modified maize varieties in Germany, there were GMO-positive findings in the monitoring of maize seeds in the analysis year 2021. The controls were carried out against the background that sugar maize seed had been marketed in Germany in which proportions of unauthorised GMOs had previously been detected by Hungarian control authorities (results of official seed tests).

If the proportion of GMOs in the food is below 0.9%, it is not necessary to indicate this on the label if it is adventitious or technically unavoidable, but companies have to prove to the competent authorities that they have taken all appropriate measures to avoid their presence. Only 12% of respondents were explicitly in favour of relaxing the labelling requirement, according to a VLOG survey. For producers, it is important to note that GMO tolerance thresholds differ by country of origin and depending on whether there is legislation, guidance and schemes proposing voluntary protocols for GMO-free certification with specific thresholds for food, feed and seed.

Regular monitoring of the production and legal situation in the context of food safety concepts is therefore strongly recommended.

We offer a comprehensive screening and event-specific GMO analysis service for the food and feed sector through real-time PCR, which enables qualitative and quantitative analysis of DNA.

Matrices: soybean, maize, rapeseed among others
Analytics: screening and event-specific GMO analysis services, real-time PCR

Our expertise in molecular biology
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Ethylene oxide

RASFF repeatedly reports ethylene oxide findings, despite EU-wide ban

Ethylene oxide is a gas used to sterilise pharmaceuticals, packaging materials, medical devices, polyester fibres, plastics and synthetic rubber. Ethylene oxide is carcinogenic to humans; it has been classified as a category 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). 2-Chloroethanol, the main derivative of ethylene oxide in food, is considered mutagenic. In some countries (e.g. India), this compound is used as a pesticide to control insects and microorganisms (fungi and bacteria) in dry foods such as herbs, spices, nuts and oilseeds. In the European Union, however, the use of this toxic substance in the food segment has not been authorised since 1991.
Nevertheless, the RASFF system continued to list alerts on food contaminated with ethylene oxide in various European states in 2021. Affected foods ranged from sesame seeds to ice cream and other foods containing locust bean gum and guar gum.
Ethylene oxide quickly disappears from food through evaporation or chemical reactions.
By contact with the food, it undergoes various reactions within the matrix, so that consumers are mainly
consumers are mainly exposed to reaction products, of which 2-chloroethanol is the most important. It serves as a marker for the use of ethylene oxide. In Europe, the legal limit for ethylene oxide (defined as the sum of ethylene oxide and 2-chloroethanol expressed as ethylene oxide) in sesame seeds is 0.05 mg/kg.
We have established an accredited method for the detection of ethylene oxide and 2-chloroethanol in sesame seeds and related products in full compliance with Regulation (EC) 396/2005, with a limit of quantification of 0.01 mg/kg.

Matrices: rice, herbs and spices, bakery products, cereal products, coffee, fruits, nuts and seeds 
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Novel Food

Determination of cannabinoids in food

When do cannabinoids become a problem?
When defined toxicological limits are exceeded due to the psychoactive effect or when a product is not marketable due to its classification as narcotic or novel food.
The most important psychoactive compound is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Products with a THC content above 0.2 % are classified as narcotics (German Narcotics Act). The regulation of cannabis products within Europe is not yet harmonised; uniform maximum levels are currently being discussed. The THC content in food may not exceed the Acute Reference Dose of 1 µg/kg body weight per day.
Products containing synthetic or isolated pure cannabidiol may be marketed if they are approved as novel food and no Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol is detectable in them.
The legally compliant marketing of trendy hemp-containing product novelties presents manufacturers with new challenges in production and quality assurance in analytics. 
With our research and development centre, we have developed methods for the safe determination and quantification of cannabinoids in compliance with toxicological threshold values. Please also read our recent publications "Cannabinoids in Novel Foods and Feed" and "Cannabinoids in Food, Feed and NovelFood".

Matrices: Herbal and tea mixtures, confectionery, flours, oils, sauces
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Mineral oil analysis remains an ongoing topic

Recently, a publication by FoodWatch created a lot of momentum in the industry. In France, a draft law is currently under public discussion on a gradual ban on the use of mineral oil components in packaging and printed products. 
In the field of mineral oil analysis in food, we have been one of the leading German laboratories with an international reputation for over ten years. We support you in identifying and understanding the origin of possible MOSH and MOAH contamination so that you can manage and prevent crises. Our services cover food, packaging, food stimulants and compressed air in industrial production facilities.
Our analytical service is aligned with the JRC Guideline, as well as the 2019 JRC Guidelines, and we are fully accredited to ISO 17025. 
In continuous development of our services, we have retrained our methodology for skimmed milk powder and whey powder. For products with a low fat content of 0.5%, we can now safely detect the guidance value of 22 mg/kg MOSH in milk fat.

Matrices: food, feed, food contact materials and cosmetic raw materials and cosmetics.
RushAnalytics: Possible on request
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Please also read the current publication on synthetic paraffin oils from GTL in comparison with mineral oil, in which our colleague Dr Susanne Kühn, Head of the Test Laboratory, was involved.