Glyphosate Testing Updates

1-cornBack in May, we reported on new developments in food testing and the beginning of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) participation in testing for Glyphosate residues in food.  This new FDA directive was in line with growing international concern over the safety of Glyphosate, and increased domestic pressure from consumer groups, academics and testing laboratories.  Pickering Laboratories has been excited to assist our Glyphosate-testing environmental customers with learning the new food matrices, and our food testing customers with learning a new Glyphosate application.

During the September 2016 AOAC International meeting in Dallas, Pickering Laboratories presented an improved post-column method for Glyphosate analysis in foods with simplified sample preparation procedure. This method was successfully applied to Glyphosate analysis in oats, wheat flour, eggs, milk, soybeans, corn and beer. The method is capable of analyzing Glyphosate at levels well below legal limits with high precision and accuracy. Our poster generated a lot of interest among AOAC meeting attendees. We received inquiries from laboratories doing pesticides testing as well as other attendees who, despite not being involved in Glyphosate analysis, expressed concerns at the indications of presence of Glyphosate in common foods, especially cereals. A copy of our application note can be found on our webpage.

Legal tolerances for Glyphosate vary widely from country to country. For example, the limits for oatmeal range from 0.1 ppm in Australia to 15-20 ppm in Canada, Europe and United States. In May 2016, Taiwan recalled close to 62,000 kg of Quakers Oats products due to Glyphosate contamination with up to 1.8 ppm present. Other reports also indicate that Glyphosate contamination of oat-containing and wheat-containing cereals is commonly found at levels close to and above 1 ppm. These findings are not surprising considering prevalence of Glyphosate use as a pre-harvest desiccant for many crops (including oats and wheat). Though 1-2 ppm levels of Glyphosate are well below the legal tolerances within the United States, the amount of cereals commonly consumed by people, including young children, range from 50-100 grams per day. Those quantities easily bring a person’s daily exposure to Glyphosate to almost 0.2 mg, and that is just from breakfast.

In light of mounting evidence of the pervasive presence of low levels of Glyphosate in a wide variety of common foods, we find it unfortunate that the FDA reportedly has halted the testing of Glyphosate in food products, citing the need to develop consistent methods amongst the different FDA laboratories. On the other hand, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported proposing to extend their pesticide residue monitoring program, with special attention to Glyphosate monitoring, including mandatory analysis of Glyphosate in crops such as soy beans, rapeseeds (Canola) and barley. We certainly hope the FDA would follow suit and Glyphosate food testing will soon resume. We believe Pickering Laboratories’ method would be a perfect candidate for the Glyphosate monitoring program.

2016 AOAC International

aoac-2016The 130th Meeting of AOAC International was held in Dallas, Texas from September 18-21, 2016. Pickering Laboratories is a long time corporate sponsor and very active participant in the expert panels and laboratory collaboration groups that characterize the spirit of the AOAC members.  Maria Ofitserova attended to present our validated post-column derivatization method for Theanine Analysis in Tea, Dietary Ingredients and Supplements, and her Monday morning session drew a large audience of interested attendees. This Theanine method was approved as AOAC First Action Official Method 2016.10 in August 2016 and has just been published together with the Single-Laboratory Validation results in the November-December issue of Journal of AOAC International.

Pickering continued to be closely involved in AOAC Standards development work by participating in several Stakeholders Panels. As a member of the SPIFAN Expert Review Panel (ERP), Maria attended the meeting and focused on reviewing candidate methods for nutrients and trace elements in infant formula and adult nutritionals. The ERP discussed methods for B vitamins, Carotenoids, fructants and galacto-oligosaccharides. She also attended the meeting of Stakeholder Panel for Dietary Supplements (SPDS), where three new working groups were launched! These working groups are tasked with developing Standard Method Performance Requirement for the analysis of free amino acids, vitamins K1 and K2 as well as active compounds in ginger.  

Among the new application notes we introduced at the show was the updated Application Note MA211 Glyphosate Analysis in Foods, which generated interest for a number of attendees.  Please read our Glyphosate testing update in this newsletter to find out more!

The SupplySide International Trade Shows & Conferences

1-supplmentThe SupplySide International Trade Shows & Conferences brings together global dietary supplement, food and cosmeceutical companies and ingredient suppliers. The shows represent the largest exhibitions of raw materials and services for the nutraceutical and functional food industries. The Supply Side West 2016 took place in Las Vegas from October 4 to 8 and focused on the new dietary ingredient notification process. This focus strengthened the importance of Good Manufacturing Practices and labelling procedures. Some controversial supplements included Aloe, Hemp and Cannabis, which were discussed in length related to confusion in definitions, plant parts used and classification of active ingredients.  The American Herbal Products Association website ( has more information regarding these topics and the website also includes The Botanical safety handbook. This handbook together with the Dietary Supplement Fact sheets ( helps consumers make educated decisions regarding supplements. Pickering Laboratories interest in this growing industry is to provide support and options to analytical methods using post-column technology. Our post-column derivatization instruments (Pinnacle PCX and Vector PCX) combined with the relevant kits ( analytical column, mobile phase, reagent) can be used to analyze contaminants such as pesticides (Carbamates), herbicides (Glyphosate) and mycotoxins that are harmful to consumers and active ingredients such as amino acids. Details for these methods can be found at

Aflatoxins in Feeds

1-cow“Advances in mycotoxin detection and analytic techniques have shown the mycotoxin problem to be much larger and more diverse than once imagined. As the climate changes, as feed materials are being sourced from different parts of the world and novel sources of feed materials are being used the risk to exposure from many toxins simultaneously is now greater than ever before. Even low levels of mycotoxins in animal diets can have a significant impact on livestock production, such as impaired gut health”. This is from the article ‘Mycotoxins: Risk is greater than ever before’ in the magazine All about feed, August 19, 2016.

Pickering Laboratories can provide some options for laboratories that want to analyze for Mycotoxins. Aflatoxins can be analyzed by iodine derivatization using Pinnacle PCX or Vector PCX or with UVE photochemical reactor. A combination of photochemical reactor and chemical derivatization can be utilized for multi-residue Mycotoxins analysis. Details of these methods can be found at

Trip to ACIL’s 2016 Annual Meeting in St. Louis!

Every year, Rebecca Smith attends the annual meeting of the American Council of Independent Laboratories (ACIL) on behalf of Pickering Labs.  This year Jim Murphy was able to come along, and we flew over to St. Louis for a great week of educational sessions and networking with lab owners and managers from all over the country!


ACIL is the trade association that represents commercial scientific and testing laboratories (independent means the members are not government or university labs).  Its members are engaged in testing, product certification, consulting, and research and development.  Affiliated membership is available to manufacturer’s laboratories, consultants, and suppliers to the industry.  Pickering Laboratories has only been an affiliate member since 2010, but next year ACIL will be celebrating its 80th anniversary!

So as you can imagine, when a group of top laboratory executives get together, there is very hard work to get done.  We listened to great speakers on leadership topics, human resources topics, and business improvement topics.  We also “worked very hard” during a Cardinals baseball game, during a tour at the Anheuser-Busch brewery, and while touring the fabulous downtown St. Louis area. 

Networking events are a great opportunity to talk with more experienced lab managers and learn from their wisdom, and Rebecca comes back every year with great new ideas to implement with the Pickering staff.  The ACIL technical program is also a great learning experience for developing business acumen and keeping your leadership fresh.  This year ACIL brought in Jason Greer, who made two hours of Diversity Training fly by in an instant – seriously one of the most engaging speakers we’ve ever seen!  We also were impressed with John Bohm and his talk on evolving your business strategies and standing out to your customers.  The ACIL staff does a great job every year of selecting awesome content – Jim and Rebecca would encourage any and all lab owners or managers to check out the meeting.  We are so happy a customer referred us to ACIL in 2010 and haven’t missed an annual meeting since!

Since Rebecca is an avid equestrian and enthusiastic beer drinker, I’m guessing you can imagine the pictures we have ready to share from this year’s trip: 


Both of the above are classic shots from the Budweiser Brewery!  And below we see pictures from the St. Louis Cardinals’ fabulous stadium.

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Needless to say, I’m sure our staff believed we had a really rough week of hard work!  (And just to make matters more convincing, next year the ACIL annual meeting will be held in Portland, Oregon which is known as another fantastic beer hotspot!)

Random Tangent – African Safari Edition!

By Michael Pickering

My wife and I had the great pleasure of traveling to Kenya this year for a couple of weeks.  As Judy and her friend (our traveling companion) are both avid photographers, we’ve got some spectacular pictures to share.  Everyone at Pickering Labs has enjoyed the stories and photos, and I am hoping that you’ll find them entertaining as well.

Judy and I visited five conservancies in total while we were in Kenya, traveling around for the better part of three weeks.  As such, we have thousands of animal photos to share, which I am told is a bit too many for the Pickering Labs webpage.  So, Judy has helped me select several choices for public consumption and we have included links to the places we have traveled for more information than I will detail here.

In Nairobi, we first visited the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  This conservancy focuses on the protection and preservation of elephants and rhinos.  We were able to visit with orphaned elephants, and even saw that the baby elephants learn to bottle-feed themselves during their fostering!  In the second picture below, you can see me posing with Mbegu, the orphaned elephant we “adopted” during our visit.  She came to the conservancy at a very young age and injured, but we are happy to report she has made a full recovery and is thriving in her new community of orphaned elephants and their faithful and hardworking keepers.

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From Nairobi we continued north to Sambaru, where we were able to see a lot of African wildlife!  We watched elephants drinking from wells that the local people maintain for both themselves and the wildlife.  We also saw Grevy zebra (an endangered species) and cheetas when we visited the Lewa Wilderness Camp.  In addition to staying in the lodge, we also visited some of the 62,000 acres of conserved lands there.

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Lewa lands are home to over 70 different animal species and 350 different bird species.  Lewa is particularly famous as a leading rhino sanctuary, so I wanted to share a photo of the Black Rhino with you.  We also learned that of the 3,000 Grevy zebra remaining worldwide, a full 20% make their home on this conservancy.  The birds we spotted onsite were spectacular!  Here is a picture of the lilac-breasted roller and a pair of crowned cranes for your enjoyment.

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Inspired by the multitudes of birds surrounding us, I was also eager to take flight!  Lewa has an amazing biplane, and although Judy remained earthbound, I was able to take a ride in the skies and view the wildlife from a whole new vantage point!  The biplane experience came complete with the classy attire necessary to remain comfortable during the ride, much to my wife’s delight.

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We travelled to a Maasai village and the local warriors performed traditional dancing to welcome me to their village.  You can see in the photo below how incredibly high they jump!  Judy has video of this dancing, and my attempts to join in on the fun, but there are some visuals best left to the imagination.  Let’s just say that when Judy tells this story at the lab, everyone is cracking up by the time she’s done.

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From there, we crossed the equator and visited Ol Pejeta Conversancy and saw lions and warthogs pictured above.  Ol Pejeta is the largest Black Rhino conservancy in East Africa, with 108 Black Rhinos on site.  We also visited their Endangered Species Enclosure and below you will see a picture of me meeting the last male Northern White Rhino on the planet. 

Cmp17soloonsidered extinct in the wild, the last three Northern White Rhinos are protected at Ol Pejeta, where they are kept under 24-hour armed guard and enjoy a 700-arce enclosure.  Unfortunately, breeding efforts have proven unsuccessful – it has been determined that the females, Fatu and Najin, are unable to naturally reproduce.  Sudan, the 43-year old male in the picture, is an older fellow and his sperm count is pretty low…  But there is hope that artificially-assisted reproduction is a possibility and the Northern White Rhino subspecies can be saved from complete extinction.  This is an international effort, and you can learn more about the efforts taking place right here in California on the San Diego Zoo’s webpage

From Ol Pejeta, we flew to the Masai Mara Reserve, which is where the prey animals cross the Mara River.  Although the Wildebeest migration occurs between July-October, we missed the massive herds moving through.  Instead, we saw a whole lot of hippos!  You can see them below, and notice the baby sunbathing with mom!  We also took photos of more cheetahs and lions.  I won’t share those particular pictures, but these lions were definitely an actively mating pair!

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After Ol Pejeta, we traveled to our final stop at the Amboseli National Park.  We found the highlight of our time there to be the herds of Maasai giraffe.  Particularly fun was watching them drinking from a pond, as you can see in these pictures.

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mp23On our very last day in Kenya, we were treated to a rare treat.  I was sitting outside the lodge, soaking in the sights and sun, when I spotted movement at the edge of the lawn.  There was some distance of grass forming a manmade lawn, and from there a clear edge to more natural foliage, fallen leaf debris and assorted bush.  Running parallel to the lawn, I watched as something moved just exactly along the edge.  Of course I needed to evaluate from a closer distance, so I called to Judy to bring the camera and set out across the grass.  A snake!  How excellent!  By the time Judy arrived with the camera it had moved off some ways into the brush, but we were able to take enough pictures that, combined with my detailed descriptions, the lodge safari guide was able to find the snake in his book: a black-necked spitting cobra!  Truly a delightful find. 


Chromatography Quiz #25

Chromatography Quiz #24 Results

1-fit-bitPickering Labs would like to congratulate the winners of our last newsletter’s Glyphosate Quiz: David Green from Pepperdine University Natural Science Division, Jim Balk from the DHHS Public Health Environmental Laboratory, Narjes Ghafoori from LA County Environmental Toxicology Lab, Karissa Scroggins from North Coast Laboratories, Helene Lachance from Shur-Gain Nutreco, Tom Schneider from Suffolk County Water Authority, and Irene Taylor from Orange County Utilities Water Division Laboratory! 

They have each won and will shortly be receiving a: Fitbit Flex 2 wristband tracker! An ultra-slim, light-weight wristband for daily activity and sleep tracking! This wearable tech goody is also water and swim-proof! Happy tracking to our Quiz Winners!

Thank you all for your submissions!    



The correct answer to the Polyether Antibiotics Analysis quiz:

The correct answer to the Glyphosate Analysis Quiz was: we injected a sample at the wrong pH. The samples should be at pH 2 for Glyphosate analysis, especially at high injection volumes. A neutral pH sample can cause peak broadening and sometimes the Glyphosate peak elutes as a doublet. The later eluting AMPA peak is less affected by sample pH problems.

We received really great submissions on this quiz from our contestants that included other reasons for misshapen Glyphosate peaks, so we are included for a couple here for additional troubleshooting background/advice!  Nice work everyone!

From one submission, we learn that metal contamination can also affect peak shape: Glyphosate is a pretty good chelating agent through the phosphate end so contamination with transition metals, especially iron, will affect the peak shape of Glyphosate and AMPA with Glyphosate being the first peak impacted.  In the case of metal contamination Pickering recommends flushing the column with Restore, the solution formulated to remove transition metals and to bring the column back to “peak” performance.

Another scientist has pointed out a different common reason for Glyphosate peak shape problems and retention time shift: Extra-column band broadening. Extra-column band broadening will affect more dramatically the early eluting glyphosate peak. If all the peaks are affected in the chromatogram, it would suggest that a problem is related to either the system or the column. As this is not the case here and only the early eluting peaks are affected, it suggests that the problem could lay with the fluid path – fittings, void in guards or sample/mobile phase solvent, etc.  It is always a good idea to make sure all the tubing connections are made correctly; there are no bubbles in the lines or guard column and the injector stator/rotor seal are not worn or defective.

Chromatography Quiz #25: B@$eL!nE Noise!

What is causing the baseline noise in the chromatogram below?  Simply email your answer as well as your full contact information to Rebecca at by January 1st, 2016 in order to win.  You will receive email confirmation that your submission has been received.  The answer to the quiz and winner congratulations will be published in the next issue (to be anonymous, please notify Rebecca in submission). 

Amino Acid Analysis – Baseline Noise

Pinnacle PCX post-column instrument is being used, in a traditional HPLC setup as recommended by Pickering Laboratories. The quiz question: what is causing the baseline noise? 

Post-column conditions for Lithium Amino Acid analysis:
Reagent 1: Trione
Reactor: 130 °C, 0.5 mL
Reagent flow rate: 0.3 mL/min
Injection volume: 10uL

DAD Settings:
Signal = 570nm
Reference = Off

HPLC Flowrate: 0.35mL/min
Column Temperature: 37 °C








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