Multi-contaminant testing set to grow

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

AB Sciex's 6500 system launched in July
AB Sciex's 6500 system launched in July

Related tags Mass spectrometry Polymerase chain reaction Southeast asia

Demand for multi-contaminant testing is expected to continue growing, according to AB SCIEX.

Multiplex testing, which can simultaneously measure several analyses in a single test, could be used for industries such as wine.  

AB SCIEX said that mass spectrometry will be used more in residue and vitamin analysis, speciation and to analyse allergens.

Protein-based assays, which are currently done by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), is one area where mass spectrometry shows potential.  

Further in the future, it could be used in a factory environment such as changing beef and chicken production lines, where currently samples are taken and sent out before being returned with the results.

Mass spectrometry growth

Ashley Sage, technical market development manager for the food and environment business EMEA, said mass spectrometry is still growing as the power, selection and sensitivity potential are recognised.

“Mass spectrometry is widely used as a frontline technology as it is replacing other methods because of its degree of specificity,” ​he told

“Expansion of mass spectrometry is maturing and becoming more mainstream with the instruments, and the software to make it easier, especially across small labs.

“Instruments are faster and can collect more data, which allows multi-contaminants to be put together.

“You can get results back faster, they are more sensitive, acceptable residue levels can be found and it offers cost-effectiveness.”

The firm unveiled a meat speciation method​ to detect animal protein markets and veterinary drug residues in one analysis in July 

Horsemeat scandal

Sage said the horsemeat scandal was the big takeaway from the year despite it not being directly related to food safety.

“Adulteration has been a big topic, in areas like food and beverage such as wine authenticity. There were major concerns around the horsemeat scandal but recognised technology was used.

Food firms need to ensure product is ok because [food fraud] has become widely known and at the forefront of consumer’s minds, it has probably gone on for a while, so it is good to know now.

Consumer knowledge and interest is growing, it was previously not clear to consumer, they would buy nuts, rice, for example, but behind that there is the work by manufacturers and in the supply chain and some people gained money by methods that the consumers were not aware of.”

Sage said it was important to evaluate use of technology and potential pitfalls of other methods.

The firm would continue to test around what the market is doing, positioning itself to satisfy workflows and work alongside EU referenced labs, he said.

The diversification of analyses people want to run is driving increased demand for standardisation to make processes easier as at the moment different territories do different things.

Thailand presence

Meanwhile, AB SCIEX is continuing to make headway in helping companies accelerate testing efforts in Thailand, Southeast Asia region’s largest food producer and exporter.

Some of the recent challenges include food contamination cases due involving use of illegal antibiotics and excessive or unlisted toxic pesticides.

AB SCIEX is providing help to one of the “Thai Royal Projects”. Started by the Royal Thai Family, the projects are activities aimed at propelling the development of agricultural business and improvement in quality of food produces.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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