New Food Matrix CRMs from Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Matthias Nold, Product Manager Reference Materials

EC-JRC logoThe reference material production of the JRC (Joint Research Center), a Directorate-General of the European Commission is situated in Geel, Belgium.

The JRC’s mission is to promote a common and reliable European measurement system in support of EU policies. This involves the development and manufacturing of certified reference materials (CRMs, pure compounds and matrix materials) for various applications including environmental analysis, food analysis, clinical chemistry, physical properties or industrial applications.

The collaboration between Sigma-Aldrich in Buchs and the former IRMM (Institute of Reference Materials and Measurements) dates back almost 20 years. With almost two decades of experience in distributing JRC reference materials, we are proud to announce that our status as an authorized distributor of JRC has been renewed through an official candidature for tender in 2018 which was called by the JRC to award distribution contracts for a new contract period. We will hence continue to be a reliable source for these products for our customers.

All the CRMs from JRC are produced according to the specific procedures of the European Commission which are in accordance with ISO 17034 and ISO Guide 35.

Each product is delivered with a certificate containing a certified value (including uncertainty) which is traceable to a SI unit or an internationally accepted reference. The certificate also states the intended use for each CRM. Stability of the CRMs is ensured by storage under controlled conditions and by monitoring programs which have been set up to control CRM stability during their entire shelf life. All the products from JRC can be found listed at

Food matrix materials

A considerable portion of the JRC reference materials portfolio consists of Matrix CRMs, products which are of great importance for method development, performance check and the validation of analytical methods by providing real life samples with certified values for specific analytes.

Because the manufacturing of Food Matrix Materials is a very challenging and time consuming process, the number of commercially available products is rather limited and it can be difficult to find the right product for a specific analytical application. To help our customers in finding the right product, we set up a web portal with access to more than 150 Food Matrix Materials from JRC, NIST and BAM, categorized by Matrix Type or Analyte Group ( foodmatrix).

JRC has recently expanded this product range by two new Food Matrix Materials described below.

Certified reference materials for pesticides in cucumber ERM-BC4031

Certified reference materials for pesticidesThe number of regulated pesticides is very large. In addition, the variety of different food products that need to be monitored lead to thousands of combinations of matrices and pesticides.

This makes the development and validation of suitable multi-residual analytical methods a big challenge. There are currently not many matrix materials for pesticides in food available on the market to assist with the development of analytical methods. Therefore, the JRC has developed a new matrix material for pesticides in cucumbers.

This new cucumber matrix material ERM-BC403 is certified for the mass fraction of 15 selected pesticides (acetamiprid, azoxystrobin, carbendazim, chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, diazinon, a-endosulfan, fenitrothion, imazalil, imidacloprid, iprodione, malathion, methomyl, tebuconazole, thiabendazole). Cucumbers from a biodynamic farm were used as base material which was then spiked with the pesticides and then freeze-dried. Prior to analysis, the sponge of dry cucumber must be reconstituted with a specific volume of water. The CRM is provided in sets of two glass vials each containing approximately 3.2 g of dried material.

Certified reference materials for metals in dark chocolate ERM-BD5122

Certified reference materials for metals in dark chocolateThe tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of Cd has been defined to be 2.5 μg/kg body weight by EFSA3. Chocolate and cocoa products are one of the food groups that contribute a major part to dietary Cd exposure. Due to this a new amendment (EC) No. 488/2014 to the Commission regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006 was passed to establish, among others, new maximum levels for Cd in chocolate and cocoa products.

The JRC developed a certified reference material of dark chocolate certified for the mass percentages of cadmium, copper, manganese and nickel. The CRM was produced from commercially available dark chocolate produced in Peru. The chocolate was melted, homogenized and cast into molds to produce pellets of about 0.5 g. Each unit of the CRM contains six vials, each containing one pellet.



  1. ERM Certification Report: The certification of the mass fraction of pesticides in cucumber: ERM®- BC403
  2. ERM Certification Report: The certification of the mass fractions of cadmium, copper, manganese and nickel in dark chocolate: ERM®- BD512
  3. J. Alexander, et. al., Cadmium in Food: Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain, The EFSA Journal (2009) 980, 1-139.