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Using Mass Spectrometry to Detect Trace Ingredients in Food – a Poster Talk

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In today’s poster talk Jens Dahlmann, Senior Applications Specialist at SCIEX discusses how mass spectrometry might be best suited to the identification of trace ingredients in foods. 

Some foods containing trace substances or hidden adulterants may not be suitable for all consumers due to allergen concerns or ethical grounds. Routine testing laboratories help ensure ingredients are correctly declared, labeled and safe for human consumption, but the methods of identifying, quantifying and confirming these ingredients can differ from laboratory to laboratory.

In this example, we share how mass spectrometry can be used to identify porcine in gelatin-based foods.

Video Transcription (view video below)
Today we’re talking about a quite interesting topic where mass spectrometry can help us to identify and later quantify things that we may have in gummy bears. In this instance we are looking in terms of a substance that may come from pork origin.

Ethical Ingredient Testing For Dietary Requirements
As you may already know there is a certain concern in some countries and cultures countries about consuming pork and we should be aware of and be able to declare that there is no pork in that product. So what the mass spectrometer is doing, first we identify specific pork markers with exact mass measurement with our time of flight instrument – the TripleTOF® 5600+ System – and after identification of these specific markers we will convert it into a Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) based method and utilize our sensitive equipment like the Triple Quadrupole 5500 instrument that we can even use with QTRAP functionality if it is the version with spectral collection. 

What you see here on this poster is also statistic software that helps us quickly group the different origin of these specific proteins and peptides. For example, here we see some originating from the marine environment where you can also produce a gelatin type material; here we have bovine, and we also have porcine.

What Is the Big Advantage of the Mass Spectrometer?
Once the method has been established we’re able to detect ingredients at trace amounts. That means we are even able to see if a small percentage of the gelatin has a pork-like origin. 

The other big advantage is this method was converted to use in routine laboratories, and here at the RAFA 2015 conference, we are sharing the technology with global markets where it tremendously helps the analysis of foods like these nice sweets that I like to consume on a daily basis!

So I hope this helps us to understand the origin of certain things in our daily food and also that mass spectrometers can do much more than conventional residue testing as this poster shows nicely.Download the Full Poster: Are Pork Extracts Present in My Gummy Bears? >

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