Pesticide Residues in Food

Regulatory compliance for pesticide analysis in foods

As knowledge about food safety grows, the maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticide residues continue to shrink. We provide powerful GC-MS and LC-MS workflow solutions and expertise to meet the challenges of the ever-evolving pesticide residue analysis requirements for regulatory compliance, food safety, and food quality in research and testing laboratories worldwide.

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Workflow solutions and products for pesticide residue analysis

We offer systems and tested workflows to help you mitigate bottlenecks in your laboratory. These workflow solutions include all the components you need for successful method setup and data analysis, including consumables, chromatography and mass spectrometry systems, software and built-in instrument and data processing methods – all preconfigured and tested.

Pesticide Explorer Solution

Thermo Scientific Pesticide Explorer provides a comprehensive set of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS systems) solutions and procedures to help food-monitoring and contract testing laboratories reduce startup time and cost and meet regulations, such as the European Union SANTE Guidelines, for pesticide residues in food. These workflow solutions are available for either targeted quantitation or untargeted unknown quantitation of pesticide residues in food matrices and can analyze more than 500 multi-class residues in a single 15-minute analysis.

These workflows supply confident quantitation with robust, pre-tested and validated multiresidue pesticide data acquisition and processing methods and an extensive pesticide database of more than 600 compounds with selected reaction monitoring (SRM) transitions and retention times.

Anionic Pesticides Explorer

Thermo Scientific Anionic Pesticides Explorer helps streamline compliance and productivity for anionic pesticides analysis with an integrated ion chromatography-mass spectrometry (IC-MS) triple quadrupole workflow. This workflow solution offers reliable quantitation of polar anionic pesticides, including glyphosate, glufosinate, fosetyl, chlorate and more, in a single analysis and without the need for sample derivatization.

Anionic Pesticides Explorer includes high-capacity, high-matrix-tolerance anion exchange columns to enable routine analysis of analytes at low concentrations, even in complex matrices. It increases productivity by consolidating multiple method in a single analysis and is compliant with regulations including the European Union SANTE Guidelines for pesticide residues.

Which sample preparation and clean-up techniques are best for pesticide residue analysis?

Sample preparation and consumables that simplify and improve throughput for pesticide, herbicide and pesticide residues analysis. We offer automated sample preparation solutions, such as accelerated solvent extraction (ASE), for high-throughput laboratories. For smaller laboratories and those working with difficult matrices, we also offer traditional QuEChERS sample preparation products for food analysis.

These products for automated sample clean-up use the QuEChERS sample preparation method to extract pesticides and organic contaminants from food matrices for analysis by GC or LC-MS. They enable reliable, high-throughput clean-up and are suitable for a wide variety of food matrices, even those with high lipid content. Additionally, they enable clean-up of smaller sample volumes with less solvent usage.

Learn more about Automated µSPE Solid Phase Extraction ›

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Which chromatography and mass spectrometry systems are best for pesticide analysis?

Whether your goal is to achieve precision in your QA/QC routine results or to discover the next breakthrough method or compound, our chromatography solutions can provide the separation capabilities your method requires.

When accurate, reproducible, rapid separations are critical, choose from our mass spectrometry solutions to help you successfully analyze pesticide residue compounds in complex matrices.

Untargeted screening
Targeted screening
Untargeted and targeted quantitation
Targeted quantitation only
Retrospective analysis
= Not applicable = Poor = Good = Better = Best

Quick links

From sample management to data analysis, we offer software solutions for your pesticide residues workflows, including identification, quantification and confirmation of pesticide residue compounds.

NeedsCompound DiscovererTraceFinderChromeleon CDS
Non-targeted screening (unknown knowns and unknown unknowns)
Targeted screening (known unknowns)
Non-targeted and targeted quantitation
Targeted quantitation only (known knowns)
Complex targeted panel analysis
GxP/21 CFR Part 11 compliance capable
Library compatibility
Thermo Scientific Chromatography and source compatibility
Third Party Instrument Control
= Not applicable = Poor = Good = Better = Best

Featured resources

Data management and analysis software quick links

Proven pesticide residue analysis methods

Investigate the sections below to learn more about proven GC-MS/MS and high-resolution accurate-mass LC-MS and GC-MS methods demonstrating the analytical capabilities of our chromatography and mass spectrometry systems for quantitating pesticide residues to comply with SANTE Guidelines and meet required maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticide residues in food.

Ultra-low-level quantification of pesticides in baby foods using an advanced triple quadrupole GC-MS/MS system

Learn about a method using QuEChERS dispersive SPE and a GC-MS/MS instrument fitted with an Advanced Electron Ionization (AEI) source. to deliver outstanding quantitative performance for low-level pesticide residue analysis in baby food.

In this study, the quantitative performance of the Thermo Scientific TSQ 9610 Triple Quadrupole GC-MS/MS system was assessed for the analysis of more than 200 pesticides in baby food at ultra-low concentrations. A complete evaluation of method performance included sample preparation, overall method suitability measured from pesticides recoveries, selectivity, sensitivity, linearity, and long-term robustness.

Ultra-low-level quantification of pesticides in baby foods using an advanced triple quadrupole GC-MS/MS system

Calculated IDLs for all investigated pesticides. IDLs ranged from 6 to 650 fg OC corresponding to 0.006 to 0.65 µg/kg in the sample extract. The dotted grey circle marks the average calculated IDL of 0.073 µg/kg.

Pesticide Analysis in baby food using the TSQ-1610

TIC (full scan: m/z 50–500, A-upper trace) and t-SRM acquisition (B-bottom trace) for organic food sample pre-spiked at 3 µg/kg. Some examples of pesticides (C) pre-spiked in matrix at 1 µg/kg. Compound identification as per SANTE guidance with compliance automatically flagged (SANTE=Y) and peak asymmetry (AS) are annotated in the peak label.

Enhanced quantitative performance for analytical testing laboratories with Orbitrap Exploris GC

See how the Thermo Scientific Orbitrap Exploris GC mass spectrometer, coupled to a Thermo Scientific TRACE 1310 gas chromatograph (GC) compares to traditional GC-MS/MS approaches for the analysis of trace-level pesticide residues and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in food.

This study assessed the analytical performance and suitability of a benchtop HRAM GC-MS for analytical testing laboratories. System setup simplicity and method setup as well as typical method performance parameters were tested including sensitivity, linearity, quantitation, recovery, accurate mass, and ion ratios. The HRAM GC-MS system offered powerful gains in quantitative performance, ease of use, simplicity, and productivity in line with regulatory requirements such as SANTE/12682/2019.

Enhanced quantitative performance for analytical testing laboratories with Orbitrap Exploris GC
Summary of mass accuracy (as ppm) results for the quantification and qualifier ions in pesticides and PCBs spiked in (A) carrot and (B) apple.
NIST Library Search Results
NIST library search results achieved using the Exploris Orbitrap GC for the analysis of biphenyl and hexachlorobenzene in a mixed pesticide standard (10 µg/kg), with both forward and reverse library match scores of >900 achieved.

Pesticide residues screening and quantitation analysis in olive oil using an Orbitrap Exploris 240 HRMS

Discover a multi-residue instrument method for high-throughput quantitation and unknown screening of pesticide residues in food matrices at or below the current legislative requirements (maximum residue levels – MRLs). This study describes the method performance parameters using the latest benchtop LC-Orbitrap instrument, the Thermo Scientific Orbitrap Exploris 240 mass spectrometer and its application to screening 400 target pesticides in olive oil matrix.

The mass spectrometer was operated in full-scan data-independent acquisition (DIA) mode and used a Thermo Scientific AcquireX Background Exclusion workflow, which provided an option for full spectrum filtering, retrospective analysis, and multiparameter-based compound identification. Thermo Scientific TraceFinder software enabled screening for unknown contaminants in the sample. The capability of searching online databases, such as Thermo Scientific mzCloud, enabled identification of unknowns due to the excellent mass accuracy and high resolving power of the Orbitrap Exploris 240 mass spectrometer, significantly lowering the number of extraneous ID possibilities.

Pesticide residues screening and quantitation analysis in olive oil using an Orbitrap Exploris 240 HRMS
Robust LC‐MS reproducibility of pesticides spiked in olive oil, selected pesticides (overlay of injections 1 to 250) with extracted mass tolerance of 3 ppm.
Chromatogram of more than 500 pesticides in 15 min in olive oil MMS spiked at 10 ppb

Chromatogram of more than 500 pesticides in 15 min in olive oil MMS spiked at 10 ppb. The peak highlighted at 4.32 min is hexazinone showing over 11 scans across the Full Scan quantitation ion used for the analysis.

Pesticide residue analysis videos

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