Determination of pyrethroids and macrocyclic lactone insecticides in spices and tea 

Using the SCIEX 7500 system 

Cathy Lane,1 Sara Cheikh Ibrahim,2 Tino Schroeder,2 Susanne Hergett,2 Jack Steed,1 Jianru Stahl-Zeng,3 Roy Sperling2
SCIEX, UK; 2Bilacon, Germany; 3SCIEX, Germany


Pyrethroids and macrocyclic lactones are insecticides widely used in the agriculture/horticulture industries and have been designed based on the naturally occurring family of pyrethrins. To monitor the levels of these insecticides in final food products, an robust and sensitive method is required. Here an assay has been optimized for the SCIEX Triple Quad 7500 system using a total run time of 17 mins, monitoring eleven different compounds. Excellent sensitivity in solvent was been demonstrated with LLOQ values down to 0.02 ng/mL. Detection levels of 5-10 ppb for most insecticides were also demonstrated in tea and spice.

12617 7500


Pyrethroids and macrocyclic lactones are groups of commonly used insecticides in the agriculture and horticulture industries. Macrocyclic lactones are naturally occurring, or semisynthetic, compounds produced as fermentation products in soil-dwelling Streptomyces avermitilis.1 Pyrethroids, on the other hand, are synthetic, and were designed based on the naturally occurring family of pyrethrins, which were originally derived from chrysanthemum flowers.2

Due to the widespread use of these compounds in the environment, a comprehensive quantitative method is necessary to monitor and control their concentration in final food products destined for human consumption.

Here, a method has been developed using the SCIEX 7500 system for the simultaneous identification and quantification of pyrethroid and macrocyclic lactone insecticides at detection levels below the maximum residue level defined by the European Commission under regulation 2018/1514.3

Figure 1. Signals obtained for avermectin B1a, bifenthrin and deltamethrin at their respective LLOQs. A good signal is obtained at a concentration level of 0.02 ng/mL, highlighting the sensitivity that can be achieved when using the SCIEX 7500 system.

Key features of the SCIEX 7500 system for the quantification of pesticides in spices and green tea

  • Highly sensitive detection and quantification of avermectin (containing 96% avermectin B1a and 4% avermectin B1b), bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, fenvalerat, λ-cyhalothrin, milbemectin A3 and A4 and permethrin from QuEChERS extracts of spices and green tea
  • Improved sensitivity over previous assays with lower limits of quantification (LLOQs) down to 0.02 ng/mL in solvent (Figure 1)
  • Optimization of new parameter Q0D for milbemectin A3 in spices resulted in greatly reduced background and increased signal to noise
  • Increased sensitivity allows for the use of lower sample injection volumes, increasing assay robustness and significantly reducing ion suppression in matrix