pesticide quantitationThe screening and routine quantitation of pesticide residues in food products is one of the most important and demanding applications in food safety. There are more than 1500 pesticides and pesticide metabolites listed in the British Crop Protection Council (BCPC) Pesticides manual that are regulated and controlled. As an example, the European Commission regulation (EC) 396/2005 and its annexes set maximum residue levels for more than 170,000 matrix-pesticide combinations for food. Similar regulations are in place in other regions. Most pesticides are analyzed with multi-residue methods covering hundreds of compounds, which are applied to various food commodities for both screening and quantitation. Fast and reliable multi-analyte mass spectrometry-based methods are thus required for the detection, identification and quantitation of hundreds of pesticides at low concentrations in a broad range of food matrices and in compliance with regulatory levels.

Routine Targeted Quantitation of LC-Amenable Pesticides

LC-MS technologies offering both high resolution accurate mass (HRAM) and triple quadrupole MS (QqQ) have gained a lot of popularity owing to their increased specificity, ease of use, and high selectivity. However, very often there are questions about which LC-MS platform is ideal for a particular application. Table 1 attempts to address some of these questions.

Table 1. Use of HRAM and QqQ in Pesticide Quantitation

Why HRAM? Why QqQ?
Confidence in confirmation Confidence in robustness, reliability
High resolution, accurate mass for non-target screening Routine, targeted quantitation of samples in a high-throughput environment
Retrospective search of new compounds Ensuring high productivity in routine quantitation labs aiming for high selectivity & sensitivity
Sensitive, simultaneous non-targeted and targeted quantitation in a non-regulated environment Addressing regulatory concerns and  ensuring seamless productivity with established/customized methods

Despite outstanding developments in LC-HRAM and QqQs continue to be used for routine targeted pesticide quantitation. Together with an efficient sample preparation process, outstanding LC, and robust software for data acquisition, review, analysis, and reporting, QqQs form the core of workflow solutions in many laboratories.

What are Start-to-Finish Workflows?

A start-to-finish workflow provides users with a method that includes all of the components necessary to permit analysis of the sample from the sample preparation step to reporting of the results. This method addresses all challenges faced in the analytical laboratory, from achieving desired LQs, robustness, reproducibility, while addressing all regulatory requirements. All the necessary components have been incorporated into the Pesticide Explorer Collection, a downloadable comprehensive start-to-finish rugged workflow that has been developed and inter-laboratory validated for use in food research laboratories focused on routine, targeted quantitation of pesticides.

What Are the Components in the Pesticide Explorer Collection?

A Clean Start with Optimal Sample Preparation QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe) offers a sample preparation and clean-up reagent kit, which is fast becoming a universal method of choice in food residue testing. QuEChERS offers significant time savings, and enables food research laboratories to determine pesticides in high-moisture food samples with sufficient accuracy and precision with broad analyte scope, good speed, and reduced laboratory waste and at acceptable cost.

Unforeseen Performance in Routine Targeted Quantification

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As discussed above, LC-MS/MS technology has gained widespread popularity in the recent times as a primary and/or orthogonal technology. In the Pesticide Explorer Collection, enhanced selectivity and specificity offered by a mid-range QQQ (TSQ Endura) or ultimate sensitivity from a high-end QQQ (TSQ Quantiva) enables every user the unique ability to address the challenge of developing robust, sensitive, reproducible assays for quantification of hundreds of pesticides in hundreds of samples in a routine environment.

Software: Your Gateway to Success

Software is the standard gateway to realizing the benefits of an analytical platform and for maximizing the potential of a comprehensive solution for quantitation. From method development to data acquisition, processing, analysis, review, and report generation, an easy-to-use, robust software is essential. TraceFinder software offers an ideal software platform that enables every user, regardless of expertise, to develop methods and address the goals set by their laboratories and organizations. TraceFinder can be used with both QExactive and/or Triple Quadrupole MS, hence offering the unique ability to develop a comprehensive quantitative workflow that enables food research laboratories to address critical challenges in their routine or advanced quantitation studies.

Custom Methods

Maximizing the capabilities of a robust application solution can be done with the right partnership, application support, and methods. Owing to the varied expertise of users, addressing the challenge of developing a robust, sensitive quantitation assay with ease can be easily achieved with a robust and reliable hardware platform solution supported by a set of custom methods, which ensures a head start for every user. Our Pesticide Explorer Collection offers a series of custom methods that can be customized per requirement, and offers users ready access to a team of talented experts in the world of pesticide analysis.

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