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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Microbial and Chemical Food Safety » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #313418

Title: Current issues involving screening and identification of chemical contaminants in foods by mass spectrometry

item Lehotay, Steven
item Sapozhnikova, Yelena
item MOL, HANS - Rikilt, Institute Of Food Safety

Submitted to: Trends in Analytical Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/2015
Publication Date: 5/31/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Lehotay, S.J., Sapozhnikova, Y.V., Mol, H. 2015. Current issues involving screening and identification of chemical contaminants in foods by mass spectrometry. Trends in Analytical Chemistry. 69:62-75.

Interpretive Summary: This article discusses recent developments in mass spectrometry (MS) used for qualitative purposes to screen and identify chemical contaminants in foods. The authors describe current guidelines for validation of qualitative methods for regulatory purposes in the European Union, USA, and international bodies. Pitfalls and challenges associated with real-world implementation of the current protocols for validation and qualitative analysis by MS are presented, and suggestions are made to adapt the guidelines to meet common needs for regulatory and other purposes. Regulatory organizations are expected to implement some of these suggestions in the future.

Technical Abstract: Although quantitative analytical methods must be empirically validated prior to their actual use in a variety of applications, including regulatory monitoring of chemical adulterants in foods, validation of qualitative method performance for the analytes and matrices of interest is frequently ignored, or general guidelines are assumed to be true for specific situations. Traditionally, qualitative method evaluation has been too burdensome due to the number of analyses involved, but current methods are now expected to be simple and rapid enough to conduct many analyses in a short time with minimal labor, and modern software facilitates in data processing and handling, including qualitative factors, to reliably ascertain results for hundreds of analytes. When the stakes are sufficiently high (e.g. regulatory applications), confirmation through re-analysis of the original sample should be conducted, ideally involving orthogonal chemical means, to reduce spurious forms of error (the most common source of false positives in practice). This critical review article is intended to describe and discuss recent developments with respect to qualitative aspects in mass spectrometry, and to make recommendations for validation of qualitative methods that meet common needs for monitoring of chemical contaminants in foods.