Aflatoxins Analysis in corn grits by HPLC and UHPLC

August 20, 2021


Aflatoxins are a group of mycotoxins produced by microorganisms such as Aspergillus flavusAspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus nomius living in tropical or subtropical regions and have a strong carcinogenic affect. It has been reported that higher levels of aflatoxins are often found which exceed the safe levels laid down by food safety agencies such as the FDA in wide variety of food products including fruits, pulses, grains and spices.

Present regulations require that total aflatoxins (sum of aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2) must be lower than 10 μg/kg. A precolumn derivatization method that uses trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) in combination with HPLC with fluorescence detection offers greatly improved sensitivity for aflatoxins B1 and G1.

While the previous article explains the aflatoxin analysis by HPLC and UHPLC, this article shows the aflatoxin analysis of corn grits.

LC-4000 UHPLC system


Sample preparation
Corn grits were selected as actual sample, and the multi-functional column was applied to the sample preparation of corn grits. Sample preparation procedure is shown in Figure 1. Regarding the chromatographic conditions and details of derivatization, please refer to the previous article.

Figure 1. Sample preparation (corn grits)


Chromatograms of corn grits samples prepared using the multi-functional columns (MycoSep 226AflaZon+) in the sample preparation are shown in Figure 2 and 3 (both the conventional HPLC and UHPLC).

Figure 2. HPLC Chromatograms of purified solution from corn grits (1=Aflatoxin G1, 2=Aflatoxin B1, 3=Aflatoxin G2, 4=Aflatoxin B2)

Figure 3. UHPLC Chromatograms of purified solution from corn grits (1=Aflatoxin G1, 2=Aflatoxin B1, 3=Aflatoxin G2, 4=Aflatoxin B2)

The samples from corn grits and those spiked with a standard mixture of aflatoxins were used for the recovery estimation of aflatoxins. Almost no contaminant peaks were observed in the chromatograms and good recovery of standard aflatoxins was obtained for both conventional HPLC and UHPLC a s shown in Table 1.

Table 1.  Recovery [%] of standard aflatoxins

Conventional HPLC UHPLC
Aflatoxin G1 107 108
Aflatoxin B1 106 102
Aflatoxin G2 100 100
Aflatoxin B2 100 100

About the Author

Chromatography Group