The work will begin with a critical review of current best practice and recent developments in methodology for speciation analysis.
Development work will be based on a number of candidate materials which are known to contain appropriate amounts of Se compounds. These include selenium yeast (high levels) and wheat flour, garlic, dogfish and cod muscle samples (natural levels). Target analytes will be total Se and selenomethionine (SeMet) and dipeptide gamma-glutamyl-methyl-Se-cysteine.
The project will initially investigate a range of extraction and clean up procedures for key Se species of interest. Subsequently the methods of quantitative measurement of SeMet and other potential Se species using liquid chromatography-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LC-ICP-MS) will be developed.
The main deliverable will be a report on development and validation of the methodology, in a form suitable for publication, and dissemination through presentations at scientific conferences.
Selenium (Se), which is found naturally in a variety of foodstuffs, has long been recognised to have both toxic and beneficial effects. The balance between these effects depends on the concentration and, as is now widely accepted, whether the element is present as the free metal or as an organo-metallic compound (Se species). Reliable information on the amount and identity of the Se compounds present in foodstuffs will help to progress understanding of the role of Se in the diet.
The identification and quantitative measurement of organo-metallic compounds is a relatively new area of analytical science and presents difficulties. These include not just reliable instrumental measurement but, in particular, the ability to extract the species from samples with complete efficiency and without inducing decomposition of the target analytes.
The last issue is currently a problem in the determination of Se species in a variety of matrices, ranging from plant materials to clinical samples. This project aims to develop and validate methods for selenium speciation.
<P>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food
Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.