The Contract Research Unit of Mérieux NutriSciences, together with Barilla, has created a method to simultaneously quantify relevant food contaminants (pesticides, antibiotics and toxins) and identify “non targeted molecules” in bakery raw materials and finished products.

“In addition to “traditional” multi-residues MRM mass spectrometry techniques capable of quantifying a list of targeted compounds, the global food industry requires non-targeted methods capable of detecting possible new unknown contaminants or potentially hazardous molecules," explains Dr. Pierre Métra, R&D Chemistry Director of Mérieux NutriSciences.

To develop the new method, the R&D team used the LC-HRMS* Exactive™ (Orbitrap Technology) to validate and quantify a extensive list of targeted molecules (pesticides, antibiotics and toxins) in bakery matrices and also tested the effectiveness of this technology in identifying non targeted molecules through retrospective investigations. (*HRMS: High resolution Mass Spectrometry)

The Orbitrap technology was also proven to be selective and sensitive in the determination of trace levels of some pesticides, antibiotics, toxins and identifying untargeted molecules in milk, flour and bakery products. “This alternative to the traditional tandem mass spectrometry approach allows for additional flexibility in post-acquisition data processing with the advantage of offering the possibility for retrospective data mining. Testing such a range of contaminants in one single test is also a real breakthrough, when most available methods can only test for families of contaminants, i.e. drug residue " states Métra.

The project was entitled “Quantitative Targeted Residue and Retrospective Data Analysis of Relevant Pesticides, Antibiotics and Mycotoxins in Bakery Raw Materials and Food Commodities by LC-HRMS Exactive™ (Orbitrap Technology)”. The method is the result of research from the screening of field samples, and will soon be extended to other food commodities. The work will be presented later this year at the AOAC International Conference by Dr. Michele Suman from Barilla (Parma) during a scientific session on emerging contaminants, as well as during the upcoming MS Food Day in Trento (Italy). The test is already available to customers.