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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Microbial and Chemical Food Safety » Research » Research Project #440768

Research Project: Leading the Way to the Future of GC-MS in Food Safety Analysis

Location: Microbial and Chemical Food Safety

Project Number: 8072-42000-088-002-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2021
End Date: Apr 30, 2025

For food safety and security reasons, chemical contaminants should be monitored in the food supply, but common methods of analysis take too long, cost too much, and are limited to targeted compounds. Gas chromatography – mass spectrometry has been the central technique for 50 years to quantify and identify relatively volatile organic molecules in complex samples, such as food, but traditional gas chromatography – mass spectrometry methods take 25-45 minutes per sample. The main objective of this proposed research is to develop, evaluate, and validate exceptionally fast methods of analysis for pesticides and other toxic contaminants in foods using advanced techniques in gas chromatography - mass spectrometry that can revolutionize food safety monitoring of chemical contaminants.

In the USDA laboratory: 1) low-pressure gas chromatography (LPGC) using both high-resolution orbital ion trap mass spectrometry (HRMS) and triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) will be thoroughly investigated and optimized to achieve separations for hundreds of nontargeted and targeted analytes in under 5 min; 2) analyte protectants in LPGC-HRMS and LPGC-MS/MS will be systematically and thoroughly studied to provide a solid fundamental understanding of theory and mechanism for their widespread practical implementation; and 3) interlaboratory validation and comparison of the optimized methods using LPGC-HRMS, LPGC-MS/MS, and fast GC-MS with supersonic molecular beams (SMB) will be conducted between both investigator laboratories using shared samples. In the Tel Aviv laboratory: 1) open-probe sample introduction will be systematically investigated for analysis of chemical food contaminants in less than 3 minutes using GC-SMB-MS in comparison with LPGC-MS; 2) methods of fast analysis using the open-probe GC-SMB-MS approach will be developed for implementation in additional food safety and anti-terrorism applications; and 3) same as above in an interlaboratory study.