U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Current issues involving screening and identification of chemical contaminants in foods by mass spectrometry

Steven J. Lehotay, Yelena Sapozhnikova, Hans G.J. Mol
TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry 2015 v.69 pp. 62-75
adulterated products, analytical chemistry, computer software, data analysis, food analysis, food contamination, foods, guidelines, mass spectrometry, monitoring, qualitative analysis, screening
Although quantitative analytical methods must be empirically validated prior to their actual use in a variety of applications, including regulatory monitoring of chemical adulterants in foods, validation of qualitative method performance for the analytes and matrices of interest is frequently ignored, or general guidelines are assumed to be true for specific situations. Traditionally, qualitative method evaluation has been too burdensome due to the number of analyses involved, but current methods are now expected to be simple and rapid enough to conduct many analyses in a short time with minimal labor, and modern software facilitates in data processing and handling, including qualitative factors, to reliably ascertain results for hundreds of analytes. When the stakes are sufficiently high (e.g. regulatory applications), confirmation through re-analysis of the original sample should be conducted, ideally involving orthogonal chemical means, to reduce spurious forms of error (the most common source of false positives in practice). This critical review article is intended to describe and discuss recent developments with respect to qualitative aspects in mass spectrometry, and to make recommendations for validation of qualitative methods that meet common needs for monitoring of chemical contaminants in foods.