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Thermo Scientific GC/MS and LC/MS Instrumentation Selected by the Fera to Ensure Food Safety

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Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., has announced that the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), an executive agency of the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), has selected Thermo Scientific GC-MS and LC-MS systems for accurate, rapid and cost-efficient analysis of food products.

Fera currently manages more than 600 research projects, analyzing more than 50,000 plant and food samples a year. It is the National Reference Laboratory for chemicals in food such as mycotoxins, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chemicals from food contact materials, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in food and feed and some pesticides and veterinary drugs.

The agency is now using the Thermo Scientific TSQ Quantum GC-MS/MS and Exactive™ high-performance benchtop LC-MS systems to analyze food, feed, water and air samples for potential contamination. As a result, Fera has benefited from substantial time savings as well as accurate and consistently reliable results.

To learn more about the products used by Fera please visit: http://www.thermoscientific.com/foodsafety.

The use of pesticides to protect crops and maintain efficiency of production is commonplace in agriculture. Governments, food producers and food retailers have a public responsibility to ensure that any residues occurring in foods for human consumption are at, or below, statutory maximum residue levels (MRLs).

Analytical instrumentation must be capable of testing a wide array of foods for a large number of pesticides at concentrations at or below 0.01 mg/kg in an accurate, rapid and cost-effective manner. Fera selected the TSQ Quantum GC-MS/MS based on the system’s ability to perform targeted screening for low concentrations of pesticide residues in foodstuffs.

The high sensitivity and selectivity of the instrument has enabled Fera to efficiently achieve 0.01 mg/kg target reporting limits, providing reliable and consistent results, with almost no repeat analyses required. Fera uses the system in combination with Thermo Scientific Xcalibur software for data processing, resulting in significantly increased throughput.

The food testing industry is increasingly turning toward holistic food monitoring, an approach often referred to as profiling or screening. This requires a detailed understanding of what is naturally and normally present in foods so that it is possible to monitor the food chain for abnormalities.

To accomplish this, Fera chose the Exactive high performance benchtop LC-MS based on its capacity for high resolution and high mass accuracy, enabling detailed, non-targeted screening of food samples. Another key advantage of selecting the Exactive was the system’s complementarity with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which is a key technique in Fera’s laboratory.

Fera has not only benefited from the system’s capacity to analyze samples with high matrix content, but also its reliability and ease-of-use, all of which have resulted in significant time savings. Data are processed and de-convoluted using the advanced Thermo Scientific SIEVE software, further simplifying the analysis of results.

Adrian Charlton, head of chemical and biochemical profiling at Fera, comments “The Thermo Scientific TSQ Quantum GC-MS/MS and Exactive high performance benchtop LC-MS systems have become an integral part of our laboratory and have enabled Fera to make significant progress towards ensuring a sustainable food chain and protecting consumers from biological and chemical risks within food.”