MALDI Biotyper: the future of food quality and safety

Here, Dr Gerald Larrouy-Maumus from Imperial College London and Matteo Viganò from Bruker Microbiology and Infection Diagnostics reveal how new methodologies are advancing testing capabilities.

The global food safety testing market size was estimated at nearly $21 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to see an annual growth rate of 7.8 percent to 2030. Factors contributing to this rapid growth include an increase in foodborne illnesses, a rise in public concerns over food safety, increasingly strict food safety regulations and the continued demand for convenience foods – as well as new technological developments that are driving better food safety testing methods.i

New test methodologies offer high sensitivity at a low cost of analysis. A current research focus includes using advances in mass spectrometry (MS) technology, already proven in food pathogen testing, to study the lipid profile of food.

Lipids: an important barometer of food safety

Food lipids can be defined as a wide array of hydrophobic or amphiphilic compounds that are naturally found in agri-foods or added as ingredients in processed foods. As well as having an important role as a source of essential fatty acids in the human diet, lipids in foods perform various functions. Their structural properties are important for maintaining the desired colour, flavour, texture, and general quality of food.ii Lipids are involved in numerous chemical reactions during food processing and storage such as thermal oxidation, hydrolysis and thermal polymerisation, which generate abundant favourable or unfavourable substances. 

A food’s lipid profile is influenced by various factors such as variety, origin, harvest season, processing methods and storage conditions. Understanding variations in these aspects is important in preventing safety and quality issues such as food adulteration.iii

Robust and effective analytical methodologies are therefore essential in characterising the composition and monitoring any alterations in the lipid profile to support food safety and authenticity.