In light of widespread recalls of potentially harmful phthalate-tainted food and beverage products in Asia, SCIEX, a global leader in life science analytical technologies, is responding by equipping food safety investigators with a new method designed to accurately identify the harmful plasticizer chemical recently found in some clouding agents, which are commonly used in a variety of products, including fruit jelly, juices, sports drinks and yogurt mix powder. Public health officials and consumer protection groups are strongly urging increased testing in an effort to prevent more contaminated products being sold to consumers.
News of the discovery of products adulterated by variations of the toxic plasticizer chemical called phthalate first emerged from Taiwan in recent weeks. In the aftermath, investigations led to a significant amount of food and drink products being taken off store shelves and destroyed. Public reports allege that one or more food manufacturers had added this banned industrial plasticizer to an emulsifier as a cheap substitute for palm oil.
Government officials in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as an increasing number of other countries, continue comprehensive testing and analysis to ensure human health is protected from this latest wave of contamination to threaten the global food supply. Standardizing the test methodology helps ensure the reliability and reproducibility of results.
The new SCIEX method to test for phthalate is designed to increase the accuracy and reduce the amount of time to identify the harmful food contaminant from days or hours to potentially minutes. This new method is based on tandem mass spectrometry, which is used in laboratories for molecular analysis, including food testing. The SCIEX food testing method for phthalate is the first available method to test for this toxic-additive with this advanced technology. This is an advancement over other techniques, such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, which requires extensive sample preparation and longer run times.
SCIEX has a successful track record of enabling food testing laboratories to identify food contaminants, such as addressing the global food safety crisis resulting from melamine contamination in 2007. In collaboration with academic scientists, the company had been first at the time to deliver a food testing method for melamine and cyanuric acid. Building upon this experience of disseminating proven test methods quickly, SCIEX developed this new method this month as a means of assisting laboratories to test for phthalate in a single analysis with immediate confirmation of accurate results.
By using the SCIEX method, food testing technicians can analyze a broader range of food in less time. As part of the solution, SCIEX mass spectrometers reduce the complexity and give users the ability to more efficiently take advantage of the high sensitivity and speed of QTRAP technology with MRM3 capabilities. Going forward, food testing laboratories can also gain a new level of selectivity in their analysis by adopting the latest innovation in mass spectrometry - SelexION technology - to help ensure the highest possible accuracy currently available.
Joe Anacleto, Vice President and General Manager of the Applied Markets and Clinical Research Business, SCIEX
"SCIEX continues to play an active role in assisting government agencies and food producers to ensure a safe food supply. SCIEX technology is able to identify virtually any food additive used to try to mask the presence of a harmful chemical. If a contaminant is in food or beverages, our QTRAP and SelexION technologies are more than capable of pushing the limits of detection to identify and quantify it. This is critical for a proper response to protect consumers."
SCIEX food testing application
SCIEX mass spectrometry portfolio