In a nutshell with Lauryn Bailey, AB SCIEX
Posted: 1 May 2014 | | No comments yet
Lauryn Bailey, PhD, Global Marketing Manager – Food & Environmental Markets, AB SCIEX, discusses analytical trends in the food testing industry.
With over 40 years of innovation, AB SCIEX’s world-class service and support in the mass spectrometry industry have made them a trusted partner to scientists across the globe. AB SCIEX offers food testing solutions for raw material testing, food processing and manufacturing, finished products and import / export regulatory testing, food science research, and unknown contaminant surveillance. The company’s food testing solutions speed up the adoption of LC-MS/MS, delivering fast, accurate results with fast turnaround times, optimised to identify and quantify hundreds of chemical contaminants and residues in a single run, providing throughput and performance to help global food scientists to meet and exceed regulatory demands and to keep our food safe.
“Food testing is a challenge in multiple dimensions,” says Lauryn Bailey, Global Marketing Manager – Food & Environmental Markets at AB SCIEX. “There are consumer and regulatory challenges – to find resources to engage in more proactive testing to eliminate crises or contaminations before they happen, and to ensure that active testing is meeting import and export guidelines. And there are also analytical challenges – to simplify sample preparation and its implementation, to reduce interferences in the analysis caused by the complex food matrixes, to ensure proper method performance to meet regulations, and to ensure proper method performance for reliable results.”
Getting a wrong answer in a food testing analysis could have a huge consumer health impact, so this is a big concern for food testing labs. “The food testing industry has been incredibly progressive in advancing techniques and analytical technologies to ensure global food safety and quality, and although the industry continues to experience challenges, the outcome of this mind-set is an improvement in food safety and quality. Consumers are demanding safer, higher quality food, with more accurate labels, and food producers and government agencies have taken notice and are at the forefront in improving food testing. So, the impact on food safety and quality has been exceptional and will continue to improve as testing, regulations, and consumer attention evolves,” explains Bailey.
Food testing laboratories can use various analytical methods to address difficulties – such as sample preparation, residue and contaminant detection, ensuring against food fraud and high quality testing – but these vary depending on the focus of the lab and the sample. Bailey elaborates: “AB SCIEX has developed a catalogue of methods for the detection of organic residues and contaminants in food. Our methods are focused to provide simplified workflows for multi-compound analysis and include contaminant compound libraries that labs across the globe can easily pick-up, implement and build upon.”
AB SCIEX is also actively working on methods for the detection of allergens in foods and to authenticate foods, and has many resources and starting methods to provide to food testing laboratories across the globe to help them improve their food testing methods and overcome challenges.
Bailey summarises what AB SCIEX considers to be the ‘five S’s’ of LC-MS/MS: “Sensitivity allows reduced sample preparation steps to improve throughput and analysis cost, but also allows the detection of lower levels of residues, particularly for those that are highly toxic and are not tolerated at any level. Selectivity enables the separation of a compound of interest from the matrix, and to monitor multiple fragments of that compound (with comparison to compound libraries, for example). This gives labs greater confidence in their results to ensure they are reporting the right results, every time. Speed of analysis allows the analysis of more compounds in a single injection, with reasonably short run times (sometimes just a few seconds or minutes per sample), which improves lab efficiency to get high quality information in less time. Stability – AB SCIEX systems are known for their ruggedness and robustness. This means labs can analyse more samples with less instrument downtime and maintenance, with highest reproducibility in their results. And simplicity – although a fairly complicated technology, AB SCIEX strives to innovate simple mass spectrometry workflows to make them more easily adoptable by testing labs of all skill levels with easy-to-use software tools to enable effective and efficient data evaluation.”
With food safety under constant scrutiny, the way in which food and beverages are tested and identified has been greatly impacted. “As the scrutiny on food safety increases, products are more diligently profiled for testing, more products are tested in general, and there becomes a growing need to improve the analytical workflows to meet this food testing demand,” says Bailey. “This scrutiny is what drives all of us in the food testing industry: it’s what drives us in the technology industry to develop new innovations to support the food testing industry and the growing demand for testing; it’s what drives government agencies to review and enforce regulations with higher attention to traded products; it’s what drives food manufacturers to initiate food quality testing to support the safety and integrity of their products; and it’s what drives the incredibly talented global scientific community across industries, government, universities, and agencies to work diligently to improve our understanding of food, its safety and quality, and ultimately to ensure that we are safe to enjoy what we love to eat and drink most.”