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Wissen, was drin ist.


August 2017

• Fipronil
• The 42nd German Federal
   Immission Control Act

• Mycotoxins Series: Zearalenone

• German Fruit and Vegetable Conference


Dear Readers,

with our August newsletter, we are back from the summer break with exciting articles. In the field of food analysis, we have summarized the latest developments on the subject of fipronil. We also inform you about the "42nd Ger­man Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchV)" that has just gone into effect, as well as the obligations that arise from this.

Enjoy reading!
Your GBA Laboratory Group 


Fipronil – Current Status (14.08.2017), Assessment of Public Health Risk, Legal Appraisal

by Mareen Lehmann, GBA Laboratory Group

In our E-Mail from August 2nd, 2017, we reported on the initial findings of fipronil in animal-based food products. In this article, we would like to update you on the current status of the situation, provide an assessment of the public health con­cern, and also inform you about how the results are being appraised from a legal standpoint.

Fipronil is a phenylpyrazole (a phenyl derivative of a pyrazole) and is utilized as a pesticide and biocide. In veterinary me­dicine, it is used on dogs and cats in order to combat fleas and ticks. According to the regulation on veterinary medi­cine, Commission Regulation (EU) No 37/2010, it is not permitted to ad­minister fipronil to animals that are used as livestock in food production.[1] According to statements issued by officials, analyses of animal-based food products have indicated that the source of the contamination was the anti-mite agent “Dega-16,” which is generally permitted and free of fipronil. However, fipronil was un­lawfully added to this agent and then placed on the market. Investigations were made more difficult by the fact that apparently two versions of Dega-16 are being circulated, both the original product without fipronil as well as the version containing fipronil. Therefore, in each individual case, poultry operations have to check whether or not their Dega-16 stock contains fipronil and/or whether the products from any hens that were treated with Dega-16 are contaminated with fipronil.[1,2]

According to the BLL (Bund für Lebensmittelrecht und Lebensmittelkunde e.V./German Federation for Food Law and Food Science), since fipronil is a lipophilic (fat-loving) compound, it may be assumed that the compound can accumulate in egg yolk and subsequently in the egg white. The behavior of the metabolites is not known.[2] Additionally, the BfR (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) published several reports on their homepage assessing the health effects of fipronil. They assessed the public health risk of fipronil in eggs on the basis of the acute reference dose (ARfD). The ARfD is defined as the amount of the substance per kg bodyweight that can be consumed in one meal or within one day without any discernable health risk for the consumer. One of the BfR’s publications on this topic was an assessment of the health risk of fi­pronil that is based on the official analytical results of German authorities. Those measurements resulted in values of up to 0.45 mg/kg in eggs. When taking the European consumption data as a basis (EFSA PRIMo, Version 2), the ARfD for fipronil is utilized up to 62% for the consumer groups that were taken into consi­deration, which included children. According to this data set and the current state of scientific knowledge, an acute threat to public health is unlikely. Further­more, the BfR reported a fipronil content of 0.72 mg/kg for eggs, which does not result in the full utilization of the ARfD value for any consumer groups (including children).[3]

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), after consulting with the German Federal States, published a procedure for dealing with pro­ducts that were made with the contaminated eggs. Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 provides the framework for the legal assessment of fipronil in chicken eggs and processed food products. For fresh chicken eggs, the maximum resi­due level (MRL) stipulated in Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 should be applied. This MRL is 0.005 mg/kg and according to the residue definition it is valid for the “sum of fipronil and its sulfone metabolite (MB46136), expressed as fipronil.” The MRL must also be applied to any egg products (intermediate products) and final products. Intermediate or final products whose fipronil content is below the analytical limit of detection, 0.005 mg/kg, should be considered marketable, even if they were produced using eggs that originated from the suspended busi­nesses (eggs stamped with the numbers listed on or on the press releases issued by local authorities). If an intermediate product dis­plays fipronil content above 0.005 mg/kg, then Article 20 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 takes effect, which states that in order to check the marketability of the intermediate product, the fipronil content must be recalculated back to the fresh egg.[2]

Analyzing fipronil has been part of the GBA Laboratory Group’s portfolio for se­veral years, so we can provide you with comprehensive consulting on this topic. If you have any questions, then please get in touch with your individual repre­sentative at GBA or:

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Ms. Mareen Lehmann
Tel: +49 (0)40 797172-0

[1] Bund für Lebensmittelrecht und Lebensmittelkunde e.V., BLL-Rundschreiben 421-2017, 04 Aug 2017
[2] Bund für Lebensmittelrecht und Lebensmittelkunde e.V., BLL-Rundschreiben 433-2017, 11 Aug 2017
[3], accessed on 11 Aug 2017


The 42nd German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchV) Takes Effect

by Dr. Sven Steinhauer, GBA Laboratory Group

Evaporative cooling systems, cooling towers, and wet scrubber systems can represent a source of aerosols that may contain legionella. The fatal cases of legionella infections that are known throughout Germany, such as those in Ulm (2010), Warstein (2013), and Bremen (2016), have led to the measures presen­ted in the 42nd Immission Control Act. In order to minimize the risk of adverse health effects, this act regulates the operation, production, and installation of such systems. The result is that the operators have the duty to register and mo­nitor their systems.

This regulation provides a legal framework that is precautionary and protective in nature and is legally binding as of August 19th, 2017. This regulation im­plements the state of technology described in the guideline VDI-2047 sheets 2 and 3 as well as in the recommendation from the German environmental protection agency (Umweltbundesamt/UBA) for the sampling and detection of legionella in evaporative cooling systems, cooling towers, and wet scrubbers.

The operators of such systems are now subject to the following requirements:

• Declare existing systems and new systems to the responsible authorities
• Conduct a risk assessment that gathers the potential threats concerning
   hygiene and safety and determines the appropriate measures deriving
   from them
• Maintain an operational logbook
• Regularly have the systems checked by an authorized appraiser
• Regular microbiological, physical, and chemical testing of the system
   water conducted internally
• Regular testing for legionella and total plate count conducted by a
   laboratory accredited according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025

As an accredited laboratory, the GBA Laboratory Group has been working in­tensively to establish challenging microbiological analyses over the last 18 months. According to the recommendation issued by the UBA, one year after the regulation goes into effect, the laboratories must possess an accreditation especially for this kind of water analysis. The GBA Laboratory Group already accomplished this in the fall of 2016, so we can fully meet the high demands of these regulations, ranging from uniform sampling, to analysis and evaluation, as well as reporting the results.

Furthermore, there is also the requirement to integrate the sample-takers into the laboratory’s quality management system (QMS). That’s why we have expan­ded our system for external samplers in the drinking water sector, which the GBA Laboratory Group has been using successfully for many years. In the up­coming months, the capacity will be expanded in order to provide them with the appropriate training.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with your individual GBA custo­mer service representative, or:

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Dr. Sven Steinhauer
Tel: +49 (0)40 797172-0


Mycotoxins Series: Zearalenone

by Julia Bartels, GBA Laboratory Group

Zearalenone is a mycotoxin that is produced by certain fungi, in particular the species Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium culmorum. Zearalenone can be found in corn and corn products in particular, with the exception of pure corn­starch, although one may also expect to observe zearalenone production in silage, hay, and straw. Furthermore, there have also been reports of its occur­rence in other types of grains such as barley, oats, wheat, rice, as well as millet or even soy. Fusarium fungi usually grow on living plants on fields, which is why they are also designated as field fungi. When provided with optimal conditions, however, they can also spread within storage facilities and contaminate the har­vest. In order to prevent Fusarium fungi from growing and potentially conta­minating crops with zearalenone, experts recommend only storing crops with a maximum water content of 14%. In order to do so, the crops may need to be dried before being put in storage.[1] An EU-wide study found that 32% of all grain samples were contaminated with zearalenone. In the case of corn, zeara­lenone exposure was actually found in 79% of the samples.[2]
Zearalenone is a relatively stable compound, which is why neither standard grinding, nor longer storage, nor processes such as cooking or baking lead to any considerable breakdown of zearalenone that can be observed. Also, when very highly contaminated ingredients are utilized for the extraction of corn oil, it is possible that zearalenone is transferred to the oil. Ultimately, these instances all lead to the same thing: Zearalenone ends up in food for human consumption and thus also in our diet. Due to its hematoxic and estrogenic effects, zearale­none contamination in foodstuff should be kept to a minimum. For example, when pigs were exposed to contaminated feed, several adverse effects were observed, such as changes in the secondary sexual characteristics (enlarged cervix, pathological changes in the ovaries), irregularities in the menstrual cycle, pseudocyesis, miscarriages, and sterility. Such adverse effects have not yet been observed in other animal species. However, humans can also have very strong reactions to zearalenone contamination. In some studies, researches observed that long-term consumption of high amounts of zearalenone in pube­scent males interferes with their hormonal development, whereas in women it leads to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.[1] However, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, there are only limi­ted indications of potential carcinogenic effects in humans, group 3, which is why the risk cannot be classified more specifically.[3]

Based on this background, the EU Scientific Committee on Food, SCF, carried out a classification of zearalenone in the context of a risk assessment based on a threshold value (40 µg/kg body weight) for the hormonal effects on pigs. As a result of this, using a safety factor of 200, a provisional tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.2 µg/kg bodyweight was determined for humans.[4] After adopting this value, they observed to what extent this TDI is generally utilized by the Euro­pean population. The results of the investigation indicate that an adult weighing 60 kg is exposed to approximately 0.03-0.06 µg zearalenone per kg bodyweight, which is still considerably lower than the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.2 µg/kg bodyweight. Similar values were also ascertained for Canada, Denmark, Norway, and for the USA.[5]

Despite the relatively low utilization rate of the TDI on average, individual food samples with high zearalenone content (e.g. corn and corn products) continue to provide cause for routine testing. Furthermore, due to its toxicological signifi­cance, there are legal maximum levels for zearalenon in foodstuff, which are laid down in the Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006.[6] In the field of animal feed, there is no legal maximum level for zearalenon. Instead, the Commission has provided a recommended guidance value (2006/576/EC).[7]

The analysis of zearalenon has been an established part of the GBA Laboratory Group’s portfolio of test methods for many years. If you have questions about this or any other topic, then please get in touch with your individual contact per­son at the GBA Laboratory Group or:

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Ms. Johanna Middelstaedt
Tel: +49 (0)40 797172-0


[1] trichothecene/zearalenon.htm, accessed on 27 July 2017
[2] / cs_contaminants_catalogue_fusarium_task 3210.pdf, accessed on 27 July 2017
[3], accessed on 27 July 2017
[4] cs_contaminants_catalogue_out65_en.pdf, accessed on 27 July 2017
[5], accessed on 27 July 2017
[6], accessed on 27 July 2017
[7], accessed on 27 July 2017


Environmental Contaminants in Focus: Extractable Organic Halogen Compounds (EOX)

by Dr. Sven Steinhauer, GBA Laboratory Group

EOX (extractable organic halogen compounds) is a sum parameter for low-volatility organic halogens that can be extracted with the help of hydrocarbons such as hexane. Strictly speaking, these halogens are organically bound chlo­rine, bromine, and iodine. The German Institute for Standardization has issued a technical standard for determining EOX in solids (DIN 38414-17), so the re­sults can be reproduced at any time and can be analyzed using a precisely de­fined procedure.[1] In this standardized procedure, the material is initially dried. During the drying process, the high and medium volatility organic halogen com­pounds are removed from the material and thus cannot be detected in their enti­rety. This portion may be analyzed using another process, which will not be ex­pounded upon in this article. The remaining dry material is extracted with hexa­ne or petroleum ether, and the extract that is gained is then quantitatively tested for the halogens.

It is necessary to analyze for the parameter EOX in any basic test of mineral-based waste material. In the context of the proof/delivery procedure, for every batch of waste accumulated, the entity that produces that waste is obligated to create a comprehensive declaration analysis so that all of the waste materials can be disposed of properly and safely. When dealing with contamination in waste material and checking limit values, this procedure can be considered a cost-effective aid when determining the need for special analyses. The assess­ment can either be based upon the allocation values for “solid matter for recyc­led construction materials / unprocessed rubble” stated in the announcement issued by the German working group on waste, LAGA,[2] or the orientation va­lue for the assessment of contaminated buildings, components, or unprocessed rubble, which is 10 mg/kg EOX in solid matter.

Due to the potentially hazardous property of EOX – ecotoxic (H 14) for the terrestrial environment at concentrations at or above 10 ppm – exceeding this orientation value, according to the directive 2008/98/EC on waste, leads to specific consequences for the waste producer in terms of the disposal of that waste.[3] In this case, from a waste-management point of view, it may also be necessary to investigate the causes of the EOX contamination for the following reasons:

1. The organic halide is part of the acceptance limit value catalogue of the se­lected waste management facility, which is determined by licensing laws.
2. The organic halide is a persistent organic pollutant and consequently subject to the disposal laws of the EU POP regulation.
3. Furthermore, there are numerous other organic halogen substances that could be the basis for the elevated EOX concentrations. In individual cases, the waste assessment must be carried out according to the properties of the sub­stances.

In principle, whenever the EOX concentration exceeds 10 mg/kg, the causes should be identified precisely. In the vast majority of cases, however, the halo­gen concentrations are so small that it is not necessary to identify exactly the substance that causes the contamination. Nevertheless, it is important to con­sider that in individual cases, limit values related to the licensing laws for waste disposal plants may make it necessary to identify the substance causing the contamination even at significantly lower levels. For example, levels of polychlo­rinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination that are relevant for the classification and disposal could even be present at EOX concentrations of about 2 mg/kg. If PCBs have not already been determined in the context of the LAGA testing, an analysis of this parameter should be taken into consideration.

The analysis of EOX, both in solid matter and in water, has been an established part of the GBA Laboratory Group’s analytical portfolio for several years and we always work with state-of-the-art devices and the latest processing methods. At the same time, GBA continuously monitors the latest developments in this field. The list of parameters that we analyze at GBA, both in environmental and food analysis, are constantly updated and expanded to keep up with the latest deve­lopments and the growing demands, so that we can continue to serve as your highly competent partner. If you have any questions about this or any other topic, we will gladly assist you.

GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH
Mr. Thomas Irion
Tel: +49 (0)4101 / 79 46-0


[1] DIN 38414-17:2017-01; Bestimmung von extrahierbaren organisch gebundenen Halogenen  (EOX)
[2], accessed on 11 August 2017
Richtlinie 2008/98/EG des europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 19. November 2008  über Abfälle und zur Aufhebung bestimmter Richtlinien


German Fruit and Vegetable Conference (DOGK) in Düsseldorf

by Sabine Nest, GBA Laboratory Group

On September 21st and 22nd, 2017, the Seventh German Fruit and Vegetable Conference (Deutscher Obst und Gemüse Kongress) will take place in the exhi­bition space at the CCD Stadthalle, Düsseldorf. This is one of Germany’s most important events for sharing information and networking with representatives from the entire length of the fruit & vegetable supply chain. The participants will be provided a chance to communicate on professional topics both in the breaks and at the social events accompanying the conference.

The GBA Laboratory Group will be there with our own exhibition booth (stand number 26) and we would like to invite you to join us for interesting conversati­ons over a cup of illy-brand coffee. Our team of experts will be there by your side to help and advise you, we’re looking forward to your visit!

Of course, you can also schedule an appointment in advance:

Stefanie Riechers ()
Julia Bartels ()
Adalbert Elmers ()

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We try to research the content of our newsletters without errors and as thoroughly as possible for your benefit. If the statements contained within are nevertheless incomplete or contain errors, or if any changes have occurred since the date of publication, then the editors and publishers bear no liability.

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