Nutrilab strives to assure high food safety for customers



Nutrilab, which is specialized in feed and food analyses, strives to assure the highest safety standards. By implementing new technologies and procedures such as microwave digestion of samples for elemental analysis and LC-MS/MS analysis for allergens, they are at the forefront of increasing efficiency in food testing laboratory analyses.
“It is fundamental to comply with European requirements in the area of chemical and microbiological contaminants in food, feed and pet food. It is up to the producer to directly assess foodstuff, or to decide to outsource analyses to commercial laboratories such as ours” says Pieter Vos, director of the Nutrilab based in Giessen, Holland. “But meeting regulations is not enough from our point of view. Companies must also be aware that they have their own responsibility to bring safe food to the market.


In terms of efficiency, Nutrilab is currently taking a big hit in the field of sample preparation for elemental analysis. “We have been using ICP-OES for elemental analysis for years. However with recent developments in regulations such as lowering the standard for cadmium in food, we need the ability to achieve lower detection limits. Moreover, we also want to detect heavy metals in baby food, where the standards are even stricter. We have therefore invested in an ICP-MS for the trace analysis of contaminants such as arsenic, cadmium and lead.
For the determination of mercury we have a separate mercury analyzer. The ICP-OES is now mainly used for measuring minerals” says Bart.
Sample preparation for elemental analysis was previously performed using open-vessel digestion systems. This technology required long sample preparation time (up to two hours) and did not offer ideal working conditions for the analysts as they were directly exposed to acid vapors. Moreover, relatively large quantities of sample and chemicals were needed to get complete dissolutions.
We are also getting more and more samples to analyze: we are gaining new customers and are also increasing the number of requests from existing customers.
Bart van der Nagel, R&D manager at Nutrilab
  • nutrilab


In 2015, Nutrilab implemented microwave digestion technology in their lab. This technique offers several advantages:
  • Samples are weighed direcly into the vessel, suitable reagents are introduced and the vessel closed, resulting in full recovery of volatile elements.
  • With microwave digestion, the sample is heated from the inside, providing a more even heating than with open vessel methods.
Sample preparation with microwave technology is also faster. With ETHOS UP the microwave program lasts between 15 and 20 minutes. Including cooling, the total time for 14 samples (plus one blank) that fit in the rotor is 1,5 hours. This is time not wasted, because during the program running time, the analyst can start with the preparations of the next run. The system can accommodate different programs based on the temperatures and/or powers you want to achieve, enabling the optimized digestion of specific matrices.


The ultraWAVE is based on the SRC (Single Reaction Chamber) technology, that achieves extraordinary performance capabilities combining microwave heating with a high-pressure reactor which acts simultaneously as microwave cavity and vessel.

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"We are gaining new customers and are also increasing the number of requests from existing clients."