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Internal quality control as a tool for planning a robustness study regarding a multiresidue method for pesticides found in olive oil


The implementation of the internal quality assurance program allows for demonstration of the performance characteristics of a method, as well as the avoidance of erroneous results. There is increasing concern in testing laboratories to ensure that the analytical process remains stable, giving reliable results under statistical control. Robustness is tested by introducing variations in experimental conditions and examining the effects on the results. The European document SANCO/12495/2011, “Method validation and quality control procedures for pesticide residue analysis in food and feed”, defines robustness as a parameter that can be derived from ongoing method verification. Internal quality control tools, such as the recovery control chart, were employed in this study to enhance the stability of the recovery rates and to investigate the experimental conditions that have a major influence on the quantification of recovery rates. The method investigated in this study permitted us to investigate eighteen pesticides in olive oil by using a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry technique. This method has been accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standards and was applied for 1 year in routine conditions for pesticide residues at the Italian National Reference Laboratory. The recovery control chart has showed that all recovery rates for 1 year were close to the maximum limit (120 %) of recovery performance criteria. Consequently, a “positive” bias has affected all data over longer periods of time. A robustness test was planned in order to investigate the grounds that most influenced the variability of the results. The robustness test involved the following three parameters: solvent used to dissolve the final extract, internal standards, and type of olive oil.

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Correspondence to Tiziana Generali.

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Stefanelli, P., Generali, T., Girolimetti, S. et al. Internal quality control as a tool for planning a robustness study regarding a multiresidue method for pesticides found in olive oil. Accred Qual Assur 18, 313–322 (2013).

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  • Robustness study
  • Pesticide
  • Multiresidue method
  • Olive oil
  • Internal quality control