Ensuring food safety with rapid contaminant analysis

1st April 2013

The Chemical and Veterinary Analytical Institute Münsterland-Emscher-Lippe (CVUA-MEL) has standardised on Thermo Scientific LC-MS and GC-MS systems for routine analyses of contaminants in food, feed and human samples.

The CVUA-MEL requires extremely high resolution and highly sensitive instruments that can analyse small molecular weight contaminants in samples quickly and accurately and to the lowest limits of detection (LOD).

Following a call to tender, which involved evaluation testing and result comparisons of a broad range of competitor products, the CVUA-MEL selected the Thermo Scientific Exactive benchtop MS coupled with the Transcend TLX system and DFS high resolution GC-MS systems.

The CVUA-MEL aims to ensure food safety through vigorous scrutiny of potentially hazardous residues and contaminants, in line with current
legislation. The Institute is the central official laboratory for food and feed control in the Münster district of Germany, specializing in the food
chemistry, veterinary medicine, molecular biology, chemistry and physics fields.  The Exactive MS and DFS GC-MS systems are now being used by the Institute to analyse small molecular weight compounds such as dioxins, PCBs, pesticides and veterinary drug residues in food, feed and human samples.

The Exactive LC-MS system offers a high resolving power of up to 100,000 FHWM along with the ability to run pre-programmed targeted screening of samples without the need for thorough clean-up when combined with the Thermo Scientific Transcend TLX system. This benefit is achieved through the Transcend TLX system’s capacity to automate online sample preparation, eliminating much of the manual work of extracting and cleaning compounds.

The Exactive LC-MS also provides efficient, automated screening of urine samples taken from farms, detecting illegal drugs administered to animals and ensuring that withdrawal periods are being upheld by farmers in accordance with EU legislation. While delivering the analytical performance of a much larger instrument the Exactive system is conveniently small and compact, requiring minimal space in the laboratory.

Since its implementation, the Thermo Scientific DFS high-resolution GC-MS has significantly improved the analysis of dioxins, PCBs and brominated flame retardants at the CVUA-MEL. The versatile nature and ease-of-use of the system, with its optional two GCs for different column separations, provides the unique ability to simultaneously run two separate unattended batches of samples at different settings, greatly increasing screening speed, overall throughput and increasing full method versatility. The unparalleled high resolution capabilities of the DFS GC-MS have also substantially increased the accuracy of the laboratory’s trace and target compound analysis.

Prof Dr Peter Fürst, head of the special instrumental analyses department at the CVUA-MEL, comments: “After an extensive selection process, we chose the Exactive MS coupled with the Transcend TLX System and the DFS high resolution GC-MS based on their ability to provide both high resolution and high sensitivity. The systems have not only uniquely fulfilled all our requirements, but have exceeded our expectations and provided significant additional benefits such as extended testing time due to the Transcend system’s unattended overnight clean-up, improved staff productivity and improved screening speed. As a result, both these instruments have greatly enhanced our ability to ensure the safety of food and feed products and safeguard consumers from dangerous contaminants.”

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