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Free-Range Parenting, Pasture-Raised Eggs and No Antibiotics Ever Chickens

By Rebecca Smith

As most of you know, Pickering Labs is a small company.  We all work on a single shift, so pretty much everyone is in the lunch room at the same time each day.  That makes for a wide range of conversational topics daily, which are often influenced by the San Jose Mercury newspaper on the table or the contents of the local news the evening before. 

When Utah passed their “Free-Range Parenting” law, it made national news back in March.  It also made conversation in the Pickering breakroom!  We discussed the definition provided for free-range parenting and concluded that here at Pickering we needed more options for defining parenting styles.  Enter the new supplemental phrases: cage-free parenting and pasture-raised parenting!  Taken from the Humane Farm Animal Care Standards, we decided that a cage-free child was the most closely supervised, followed by a free-range child (allowed some autonomy) and finally a pasture-raised child, which was given the most license to roam.  It’s interesting that although most of us considered ourselves to have been pasture-raised in our childhoods, many of the staff employed a more cage-free or free-range style when raising their own children. 

As Saji, Anita and Gabriela discussed the pros and cons of degrees of parental supervision (while giving David plenty of advice for raising his 15-month old daughter), I wondered what impact the ‘parenting’ differences had on the hens and their eggs…  It was lunchtime after all! 

It appears that pasture-raised eggs might have health benefits over commercially-raised eggs, including increased omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin A, and beta carotene.  They also have reduced cholesterol and saturated fats, both of which the American Heart Association recommends reducing in your diet to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.  The differences in the eggs come from the chickens’ diet: pasture-raised hens eat grass and bugs in addition to the grain feed given to commercially-raised hens.

So, while we’re talking about the chickens’ diet and lifestyle, what else can contribute to the health and wellbeing of these hens?  After additional research, I discovered that poultry farming comes with its own bill of rights!  Called the Five Freedoms for Poultry, chickens are raised humanely when their basic needs are met (food, water, safety) but they are also given the freedom to express their natural behaviors and they have rapid access to diagnosis and treatment of injury or disease. 

Now I’m onto something!  But does a happier chicken make a tastier egg, or just a healthier one?  It’s hard to find scientific studies on taste, although you can find loads of data on the differences in composition of meats raised in different ways.  Composition impacts how healthy the egg is, but when it comes to its actual taste, apparently the mindset of the person tasting and the color of the egg might have more bearing on perceived taste than anything else, including whether the hen was pasture-raised or conventionally-raised. 

Even if taste isn’t a factor, purchasing healthier eggs and meat coming from happier hens can still be a worthwhile grocery shopping practice!  Top concerns include the environmental and human health effects of antibiotics use in the production of food, a topic that has gained steam in consumer awareness in more recent years and has been studied for several decades internationally.  As the public increases its attention on antibiotics use and antimicrobial resistance, farmers are beginning to make changes to the manner in which antibiotics are used in livestock farming.  And for good reason, as their livelihood could face increased pressure from the eventual market introduction of synthetic or lab-grown meats

In response to consumer concerns regarding food production, moving away from antibiotics use became a top priority for Perdue Foods, one of the biggest poultry producers in the United States.  Perdue began the process of raising poultry without antibiotics fifteen years ago, and they have hit a major milestone with 100% of the birds they produced in 2017 raised “No Antibiotics Ever,” meaning that from hatchery through slaughter, the birds are never treated with any antibiotics during their lifetime.  If the use of antibiotics become medically necessary for a bird, the animal is treated as needed but removed from Perdue Foods branded production.  All human and animal antibiotics have been removed from the feed and hatchery, and animals are raised in a way that does not require antibiotics for disease prevention. 

In fact, remember the Five Freedoms of Poultry?  Perdue continues to improve their implementation of the Animal Care Initiative, adding windows and enrichments to encourage bird activity.  Says Mike Leventini, manager of live production activities at Perdue Foods: “We believe an active chicken is a healthy chicken, it simply goes hand in hand.”  An impressive philosophy to implement for a company that processes 13 million birds per week from over 2,100 farms around the United States! 

Did you know Pickering Labs services the animal feed industry?!  We offer post-column methodology, instruments and consumables for the analysis of polyether antibiotics in animal feeds as well as the analysis of aminoglycoside antibiotics in feeds and the analysis of sugars in feeds.  We are also continuously improving our amino acids analysis in feeds and offer a wide range of post-column methods for oxidized and unoxidized feed samples

Most recently, our R&D team released a fast and sensitive method for the analysis of fumonisins in grains and feeds, which is particularly of interest due to the health problems caused in horses and swine.  You might remember our contaminated feed concerns from a previous newsletter article which discussed the risks of mycotoxins to livestock. 

  

 

Chromatography Quiz #29

Chromatography Quiz #28: 35th Anniversary Word Puzzle – Results

Pickering Labs would like to congratulate all of our winners for our previous newsletter’s 35th Anniversary Word Puzzle: Jim Balk from Nebraska DHHS Public Health Environmental Laboratory, Tom Schneider from Suffolk County Water Authority, Karissa Scroggins from North Coast Laboratories, Narjes Ghafoori from LA County Environmental Toxicology Lab, Joy Gottlieb from New Mexico Department of Health Scientific Lab Division, Hossein Hajipour from Texas Dept. of State Health Services Laboratories, and Widchuda Meeim from Thailand Bureau of Quality Control of Livestock Products.

Winners will soon receive a Packing Organizer Set from the Container Store! This colorful set of 6 packing cubes are durable and clearly labeled to help you organize your suitcase! Just in time as you plan for those summer getaways!

Congratulations to our quiz winners and happy packing!

Thank you all for your submissions! 


             

The correct answers for the Anniversary Word Puzzle are as follows:

Chromatography Quiz #29 – Amino Acids Elevated Baseline:

Simply email your answer as well as your full contact information to Rebecca at rlsmith@pickeringlabs.com by July 15, 2018 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). 

Maroon: Good chromatogram

Blue: Elevated baseline

What could be contributing to the elevated baseline?

   

   

   

How It All Started

By Judy Pickering

Four years into our 40-year marriage, I can recall Michael saying “I know I can improve amino acid analysis” with such enthusiasm it could only mean big things.  He’d finished up his second post-doc and was working in industry – a startling contrast, to be sure, but moving every year was increasingly difficult with our growing family.  So, we settled in the Bay Area permanently and he started first with Durham Instruments and then worked for Spectra Physics.  At the time, amino acid analysis was taking chemists on the order of 12 hours per run!  Reducing the run time to three hours was only the first of many developments Michael had up his sleeve. 

Within the year, Michael left his job to start Pickering Laboratories with our flagship product: Trione®, our ninhydrin reagent.  The first bottles were sent out to industry experts for evaluation, and became our ambassadors carrying with them our hope of building a successful business.  I remember it was important to Michael for the bottles of Trione® to ship upright, because he thought of them as little soldiers marching off to the marketplace to do the job of defending his reputation and building our brand.

The early days of the business were challenging.  Michael did all the phases of production, taking orders as well as all of the manufacturing, packaging and shipping.  He even “hired” our two older kids to wash the bottles sometimes.  I was working in corporate marketing at the time, so I would attend trade shows and help Michael network with potential customers.  We didn’t want people to know we were such a small company, so I used my maiden name to give the appearance I was an employee instead of his wife!

Michael at One of Our Early Booths.

When Michael would talk to chemists about Trione®, they would get so excited about this breakthrough reagent for amino acids analysis.  We were always grateful so many people offered their advice and counsel just to help the enterprise along.  It was rough-and-tumble for the first year or two, and every encouraging word helped keep us going.

Customer orders began building momentum, and Michael and I breathed a sigh of relief!  Michael hired an additional 3-4 people on staff and I quit my job to help with administrative duties and expanding our marketing efforts.  He determined there was demand for a post-column derivatization instrument, and the PCX5000 was born.  Our earliest foray into instrumentation came as a benchtop kit, with standalone components including a pump, mixing system and reactor. Michael initially didn’t want Pickering Labs to be an instrument company, but we found that the instruments were needed to support the sale of our Trione® reagent and also the growing family of buffers we were selling.

Michael and Our Oldest Daughter in Front of Our First Building.

Michael’s reputation for post-column expertise began gaining attention from other chemists whose applications were post-column but not amino acid analysis.  As a result, Michael began to explore these other industries’ post-column needs.  And when he developed Pickering’s OPA-reagent-based products for analysis of Carbamates and Glyphosate, he entered into the world of environmental testing and began working with EPA methods.  Chemists who had previously been making their own eluents by following the EPA methods could now buy Michael’s ready-to-use buffers and purified reagents instead.  And they kept reordering because of the quality and reproducibility that Michael’s chemistry delivered. He would even say that he would “guarantee the chromatogram” to any chemist using his products, which was unprecedented. 

With the administrative/office duties securely staffed and the business looking more and more like a successful enterprise, I stepped back into a part-time role and focused on marketing.  As our family expanded, my time also became more occupied at home (our two youngest daughters were born in the mid-80’s).  By the end of the eighties, Michael was ready to hire additional staff to manage the business so he could really focus on his true passion: research and product development. 

In fact, as I think about that time, the early nineties are when the company really started to take shape in its modern form.  Michael added then-Operations-Manager Jim Murphy to manage the business in 1991 (Jim is our current President) and shifted fully into a technical role.  They also hired a full-time marketing manager, and so I went to work soon thereafter for the Palo Alto school district. 

Michael and his team evolved the PCX5000 standalone kit into the PCX3100 and PCX5100, our first fully-integrated post-column derivatization instruments.  Michael also developed more post-column applications with the collaboration of EPA, FDA, AOAC and CDFA, all of which further expanded our chemistries and columns offered.  Which in turn cemented our customer base and reputation for making the post-column instruments.  The business experienced steady growth, and the PCX3100 and PCX5100 sold well and supported our chemistry sales exactly as we’d envisioned.

Pickering Labs celebrating its 35th anniversary is a wonderful chance for me to reflect on working so closely with Michael during the first ten years of the business.  And I’d like to use our newsletter as an opportunity to introduce myself, or reintroduce myself to our long-time customers.  After my retirement from the school district, I began getting involved in the business again and joined the Board of Directors in 2014.  My work with the Pickering team behind the scenes isn’t very visibile to our customers, but I hope this gives us an opportunity to remember Michael together and that you enjoy my fond recollections (and new perspective?) of how Pickering Labs began.

Michael and Judy Pickering,
Back When It All Started.

Pickering Labs Celebrates 35 Years!


     

Thank you for being our customer and we hope you enjoy these fantastic photos. Our employees had a lot of fun digging through their old scrapbooks to help create this blast from the past!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legacy of Collaboration between Pickering Laboratories and AOAC International

In the field of analytical chemistry, one of the important industry standards organizations is The Association of Analytical Communities – AOAC international. Founded in 1884, the organization has since developed and validated analytical methods for agriculture, pharmaceuticals, foods and other products for the United States and internationally.

Pickering Laboratories began its collaboration with AOAC almost 30 years ago with the introduction of EPA official methods for Carbamates and Glyphosate analysis in water based on post-column derivatization. Our company organized workshops and training sessions to help implement these methods in government and private labs. Pickering Laboratories also started manufacturing reagents and other consumables for Carbamates and Glyphosate analysis methods so testing laboratories could have confidence in the quality and reproducibility of the solutions and save valuable time by avoiding making small batches themselves.

“Michael Pickering always supported the AOAC and the state labs in providing workshops and extensive support.”  Laszlo Torma, Former Director of the Montana Department of Agriculture Analytical Laboratory. Laszlo continues “Michael made many enduring friendships because of his very personable and expert guidance.”

Pickering Laboratories was invited to present workshops at many of the AOAC regional section meetings. At the Midwest AOAC, Pickering Laboratories organized workshops for Amino Acids Analysis and Multi-Residue Mycotoxins Analysis in foods. At the Pacific Northwest AOAC meeting, Pickering Laboratories presented a workshop on the Paralytic Shellfish Toxins Analysis with HPLC and post-column derivatization. This was one of the critical steps in the transition to requiring this new post-column method and replacing the mouse bio-assay for analysis of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins.

Pickering Laboratories has also participated in several multi-lab collaborative studies organized by AOAC and our chemists have published many method validations in the Journal of AOAC International. Our post-column method for Multi-Residue Mycotoxins Analysis was awarded the ‘Single Laboratory Validation of the Year’ distinction by AOAC in 2009.

AOAC continues its great work as a leading standards-developing organization by assembling Stakeholders Panels that consist of representatives from industry, testing laboratories, researchers and government organizations to determine the needs for new methods. Vetted chemists are invited to join Expert Review Panels, who evaluate these incoming new methods to determine they are scientifically sound, reproducible and rugged. Expert Review Panels make the final determine if the method can be granted an official AOAC method status.

Today, Pickering Laboratories continues our legacy of AOAC collaboration with Dr. Maria Ofitserova, our Senior Research Chemist, who is empaneled on several committees.

  • AOAC Stakeholder Panel on Dietary Supplements (SPDS)
  • AOAC Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN)
  • Expert review panel for SPIFAN

The futures for AOAC and Pickering Laboratories are both dependent on the collaboration of standards bodies and the industries that rely on them for the creation and validation of methods that enable the analyses required to keep our foods and drugs safe.

 

 

 

Chromatography Quiz #28

Chromatography Quiz #27: Only AMPA – Results

Pickering Laboratories would like to congratulate the winners of our last newsletter’s Glyphosate Quiz – Only AMPA: Mark Ritari from Anatek Labs, David Green from Pepperdine University, Jim Balk from Nebraska DHHS Public Health Environmental Laboratory, Maggie Larson from Cumberland Valley Analytical Services, Eric Fuehrer from Mid-Continent Testing Laboratories, Narjes Ghafoori from LA County Environmental Toxicology Lab, Tom Schneider from Suffolk County Water Authority, Karissa Scroggins from North Coast Laboratories, and Mark Murphy from EPA Region 8 Lab.

They have each won and will shortly receive: a Holiday Bakery Gift Tower! filled with a blissful assortment of melt-in-your mouth treats! These goodies will be oh-so hard to share. Enjoy the treats and best wishes for a merry holiday season!

Thank you all for your submissions! 

The correct answer to the Only AMPA Quiz:

There is a problem with reagent #1, the sodium hypochlorite reagent (in CB130). The problems could range from Pump 1 not pumping to no bleach being added. Bleach is required to convert Glyphosate to Glycine, which will react with OPA and Thiofluor. So, if no bleach is present, none of the Glyphosate will be able to react with the OPA and Thiofluor. Only AMPA will be free to react and fluoresce, and your chromatogram will be missing a peak!

Chromatography Quiz #28: 35th Anniversary Word Puzzle

Simply email your answer as well as your full contact information to Rebecca at rlsmith@pickeringlabs.com by January 15, 2018 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). 
 

  

A R T I F I C I A L W N C V P
K E Z H I G J S I R O N E M I
Z O A J I B P G E I X C I A N
F I D E L O A Y T V T K T C N
T U G K Y B F A N O E Z D C A
O M D H R A R L R O Y R R E C
N I L I D I J W U H H S O B L
Y J E I P K Z Z Q O T T W E E
D L V S G L O R I A R A N R F
A A R A T E E R A S I I F A D
D E I J A S G Q P P O R W N L
P I C R K Y K I M X N A U C O
R  S A R X P C E A V E M X P W
A T I N A H Z D D R D B E B Z
X W O X A A Y H B E C X N F M
ANITA
ANTHONY
ARTIFICIAL
CRAIG
DAVID
DIANA
EDMUND
FIDEL
GABRIELA
GLORIA
JAY
JIM
MARIA
MIKE
PERSPIRATION
PINNACLE
REBECCA
SAJI
SAREETA
SEVERO
THIOFLUOR
TONY
TRIONE
VECTOR

Chromatography Quiz #27: Only AMPA

Chromatography Quiz #26: Shifting Retention Times – Carbamates — Results

Pickering Labs would like to congratulate the winners of our last newsletter’s Shifting Retention Times–Carbamates Quiz: David Green from Pepperdine University, Jeff Fan from Cumberland Valley Analytical Services, Karissa Scroggins from North Coast Laboratories, Jim Balk from Nebraska DHHS Public Health Environmental Laboratory, Narjes Ghafoori from LA County Agricultural Commissioner Weights & Measure Environmental Toxicology Lab, Tom Schneider from Suffolk County Water Authority, and Ms. Widchuda Meeim from Thailand Bureau of Quality Control of Livestock Products.

They have each won and will shortly receive a Williams Sonoma BBQ Tools Set! Included in a stainless-steel case for easy storage, these sleek grilling tools are perfect for those upcoming summer cookouts!

Congrats to our quiz winners and happy grilling!

Thank you all for your submissions! 

The correct answer to the Sifting Retention Times – Carbamate Quiz:

Leaking proportioning valve. The leaking proportioning valve improperly mixed the method gradient and didn’t have enough methanol which caused the analytes to elute late.

Chromatography Quiz #27: Only AMPA

What is causing the bad chromatography in the example below?  Simply email your answer as well as your full contact information to Rebecca at rlsmith@pickeringlabs.com by September 1, 2017 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). 

Glyphosate Analysis – Only AMPA

Pinnacle or Vector PCX post-column instrument is being used, in a traditional HPLC setup as recommended by Pickering Laboratories. The quiz question: what is causing Glyphosate to disappear?  

Post-column conditions for carbamates analysis:

Reagent 1: GA116
Reagent 2: o-Phthalaldehyde and Thiofluor in GA104
Reactor: 36 °C, 0.5 mL
Reagent flow rate: 0.3 mL/min
Injection volume: 10uL

FLD Settings:

λex 330 nm
λem 465 nm

HPLC Flowrate: 0.4 mL/min
Column Temperature: 55°C


 

Good Chromatogram

Glyphosate Test Mix, 2.5ppm, 10µl Injection

Bad Chromatogram only shows AMPA peak. No Glyphosate peak can be detected.

Glyphosate Test Mix, 2.5ppm, 10µl Injection