Top 5 Testing Mistakes
When it comes to any kind of testing, whether it is for GMO’s or mycotoxins such as DON or, vomi, or aflatoxin, the goal should always be to offer a fair test. The growers in your supply chain put blood, sweat, and tears into their products. They strive for premium pricing in exchange for those efforts. Upstream from the growers, processors demand the highest quality products with good value. These processors need to be confident that non-GMO and mycotoxin test information is fair, and has as little bias as possible. The best way you can accomplish this is by reducing the sources of error in your testing. In this article we lay out our top five sources of errors with regards to using EnviroLogix (or any other brand) GMO and mycotoxin strip tests; and we also give you tips to strengthening the relationships that grow your business, whether you’re a grower, a processor, or some other node along the pathways of our vast food supply chain.
- Accuracy of Measurement
Our tests are sensitive to the amount of water you add compared to the volume grain. Make sure your scale is calibrated and that you account for the weight of whatever container you are using to measure your grain. As for water, use a graduated cylinder for best results and know that the meniscus (lowest level of the water as it reaches up the sides of the cylinder) is at the volume required for your measurement.
EQUIPMENT TIP: Use a graduated cylinder to measure water
- Grains or Distillers Granularity
This refers to the surface area of your ground material. The best way to check your grind quality is with a #20 mesh sieve (Seedburo has the best price we have found on them). For non-GMO testing, the granularity needs to be coarser than for mycotoxins. For non-GMO soybean tests the specification is 40-50% through a #20 mesh screen, and for corn it is 60-70%. In mycotoxin tests the granularity should look more like a flour consistency, where >95% needs to pass through a #20 mesh.
EQUIPMENT TIP: Use a #20 mesh sieve to get the right granularity in your grains or distillers
- Deficient Shaking
Once you’ve added water to the material you’ll be testing, you need to combine them into solution. EnviroLogix has worked extensively to bring you the shortest and easiest protocols on the market but that doesn’t matter if what you are trying to detect is bound up in the material. When you do shake your sample with water, try to emulate a paint shaker at a hardware store in terms of how hard to shake it. With the mycotoxins, set a timer for 2 minutes. You will feel it in your arm when you are done.
EQUIPMENT TIP: a mechanical shaker will save wear and tear on your limbs
- Timing Errors
The EnviroLogix DON Flex test reads at 2 minutes and Aflatoxin Flex reads at 4. Make absolutely sure to use a timer. In busy testing environments, it’s easy to walk away and lose track of how long a test has been running. You want to cut the strips and read the test within 10 seconds of the timer going off.
EQUIPMENT TIP: digital timers are extremely inexpensive (avoid using a phone or other equipment that serves other purposes)
- Equipment Hygiene and Function
We recently heard the story of a cargo vessel held up at dock for 4 hours waiting to unload because a speck of dust had literally created a visual spot within their testing equipment. All rapid-detection decision-point tests rely on optical instruments, meaning that cleanliness equals profit. Make sure to perform daily maintenance:
- a calibration
- a clean test, and
- read your check comb.
You want zero bad clusters when you run your clean test. We know work environments may be difficult to keep clean under the best of circumstances. Bad clusters may actually be on your clean card so make sure to wipe it off before you run your clean test. With the check comb, make sure it says “ok” six times. If it does not, call Technical Service at (866)408-4597 extension 2. They are happy to hear from you.
EQUIPMENT TIP: keep your clean card/check comb spot-free