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Evolution of Reference Materials for the Determination of Organic Nutrients in Food and Dietary Supplements - A Critical Review



Stephen Wise, Melissa M. Phillips


For over 40 years, food-matrix certified reference materials (CRMs) have been available for the determination of trace element content, and a wide variety of materials are available from most producers of CRMs. However, the availability of food-matrix CRMs for organic nutrients has been more limited. The European Commission (EC) Community Bureau of Reference (BCR), later denoted as the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) and since 2016 known as the Joint Research Centre (JRC) Directorate F - Health, Consumer and Reference Materials, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) introduced food-matrix CRMs with values assigned for vitamins and other organic nutrients such as fatty acids and carotenoids in the late 1990s. The number of organic nutrients for which values are assigned has increased significantly in recently issued CRMs, and the approach and analytical methods used for assignment of the certified values have also evolved. Recently, dietary supplement-matrix CRMs such as multivitamin tablets with values assigned for vitamins and fish oils and plant oils with values assigned for fatty acids have appeared. The development, evolution, and improvement of food- and dietary supplement-matrix CRMs for determination of vitamins, carotenoids, and fatty acids are described, with emphasis on CRMs made available in the past 10 years. Recent food and dietary supplement CRMs for the determination of organic nutrients include infant formula, multivitamin tablets, milk and egg powders, fortified breakfast cereal, meat homogenate, blueberries, soy flour, fish and plant oils, dry cat food, and protein drink powder. Many of these food- and supplement-matrix CRMs have values assigned for 60 to 80 organic and inorganic nutrients, toxic elements, proximates, and contaminants. The review provides a critical assessment of the evolving improvements in the analytical methods used for value assignment and the current status and future n
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry


foods, reference materials, nutrients, vitamins, fatty acids


Wise, S. and Phillips, M. (2018), Evolution of Reference Materials for the Determination of Organic Nutrients in Food and Dietary Supplements – A Critical Review, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, [online], (Accessed July 19, 2024)


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Created November 30, 2018, Updated October 12, 2021