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Multi-analyte optimisation of uncertainty in infant food analysis

By Jennifer A Lyn, Michael H Ramsey and Roger Wood


The Optimised Uncertainty (OU) methodology has been developed to optimise multi-analyte situations. It has then been applied to a retail survey of infant food for trace elements, classifying the food as compliant or non-compliant with the regulatory thresholds or specification limits that are appropriate for each element. The large-scale survey of infant foods was successfully adapted to allow the estimation of uncertainties, from both primary sampling and chemical analysis, for elemental concentrations in infant formula (milk) and wet meals. The analytes included in this investigation comprised both contaminants (Pb and Cd) and elements essential for child development (Zn and Cu). Optimisation of the measurement process for a `single analyte¿ demonstrated the potential financial benefits of optimising future surveys for a false compliance scenario. Uncertainty estimates for the measurement of elemental concentrations in infant formula were dominated by uncertainty from the analytical method. Large potential savings (up to £575,000 per batch) are predicted for both Pb and Zn by increasing the expenditure on chemical analysis to the optimal level. In comparison the uncertainty estimates for elemental concentration in wet meals showed a dominance of sampling as a source of uncertainty for Cd and Cu due to the increased heterogeneity. The feasibility of `multi-analyte¿ optimisation is demonstrated for the case study of infant milk. Single analyte optimisation of the four analytes for a false compliance scenario indicated a decrease in expectations of financial loss of between 99% and 8%. An overall decrease in the total expectation of financial loss of 99% is indicated following multi-analyte optimisation

Year: 2003
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