Non-volatile impurities are among the most difficult to identify in food contact materials and food packaging. Ever-changing polymer additives and monomers represent an ongoing analytical challenge. Confident identification using a range of targeted libraries or advance high resolution accurate mass (HRAM) cloud based spectral libraries simplify the workflow.

Thermally instable or non-volatile constituents like isocyanates or primary aromatic amines are preferably analyzed via liquid chromatography (LC). Solvent extraction followed by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS), for polar and non-volatile substances is a typical analysis workflow.

Monomers, such as styrene used to make polystyrene are typically analyzed using LC-MS technologies. There could be residual levels of unreacted styrene monomer in the polystyrene, such residue is incidental and the residual monomer does not serve any useful function in the polymer.

High resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS), is now typically being applied in order to identify targeted and non-targeted non-volatile compounds in packaging materials, food simulants and the final end products themselves.

Non-Volatile Analysis for Food Packaging Materials workflow

Robust chromatographic separations are delivered by Thermo Scientific™ Vanquish™ UHPLC system with orthogonal detection techniques such as charged aerosol detection, providing universal coverage for unknowns, complementing MS identification.

Quick exchange ionization modes including APCI & ESI are complemented by fast polarity MS switching. Record both +/- scans within a single acquisition for complete ionization coverage. MSn capabilities and exceptional mass accuracy, make the Thermo Scientific™ Q Exactive™ Series of mass spectrometers the perfect tool for structural elucidation of unknowns.

Thermo Scientific™ Compound Discoverer™ software helps ensure confident compound identification and structural elucidation with advanced algorithms that quickly process and identify changes between different sample groups, and identify compounds based on multiple search approaches. This includes HRAM libraries, cloud based libraries like mzCloud™, and compound databases. The software conducts parallel searches and delivers a single unified report.


Featured resources

Dr. Michele Suman, Food Chemistry & Safety Research Manager at Barilla G. e R. Fratelli, describes how his facility is testing for emerging risks in food safety. His laboratory is researching the detection of plasticizers that have leached into food samples from their packaging, such as the plastic gasket on the lid of a glass jar.

Packaging materials (PM) and non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) are currently one of the hottest research topics in food safety relevant applications. Current research especially focuses on identification of non-expected or up-to-now unknown compounds.

Ed George, a Senior Applications Scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific, describes the analysis of food contact materials. High resolution mass spectrometry enables the detection and identification of leached compounds into foodstuffs from packaging materials.

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