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Improvements in vitamin analysis in food


Accurate methods for the determination of vitamins in foods are an essential requirement for laboratories to meet EU food labelling directives, and for the production of reliable data for nutritional research into relationships between diet and health. A wide range of different methods are used including HPLC, chemical and microbiological and these often give unreliable results.

The overall objective of this project is to improve the measurement of three fat-soluble vitamins (A, E & D3), a range of carotenoids (pro-vitamin A compounds), and eight water-soluble vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, folate, niacin, biotin & pantothenic acid). In particular, to establish the most suitable methods for each vitamin, or group of vitamins, in terms of accuracy and reliability.
Optimisation of sample extraction and clean-up procedures, chromatographic separation and calibration have been carried out successfully enabling the preparation of three reference materials (margarine, fortified milk powder and lyophilised Brussels sprouts) with certified values for vitamins A, E & D3 and C, and niacin. A further three reference materials have been prepared, and are currently undergoing certification for the remaining water-soluble vitamins and carotenoids. These CRMs will play a vital role in quality control of analytical measurements performed for nutritional labelling and other purposes. This will benefit both the consumer and food industry. In addition, results form this project have been used to establish CEN Standard Methods for the determination of vitamins, A, E and D3. CEN methods for B1, B2 and C are currently under preparation. These procedures have broad specificity and can be used for a range of different food.
This involves three main themes:
a) interlaboratory studies involving the above methods to identify and control systematic errors leading to better agreement in results between laboratories, and between different method types;
b) optimisation of sample extraction and clean-up procedures especially enzyme dephosphorylation, chromatographic separation and calibration.
c) the preparation of suitably homogeneous and stable CRMs covering a wide range of food matrices.


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BBSRC Institute of Food Research
Norwich research park colney lane
NR4 7UA Norwich
United Kingdom

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