Challenges and trends in the determination of selected chemical contaminants and allergens in food

This article covers challenges and trends in the determination of some major food chemical contaminants and allergens, which-among others-are being monitored by Health Canada’s Food Directorate and for which background levels in food and human exposure are being analysed and calculated. Eleven different contaminants/contaminant groups and allergens have been selected for detailed discussion in this paper. They occur in foods as a result of: use as a food additive or ingredient; processing-induced reactions; food packaging migration; deliberate adulteration; and/or presence as a chem. Contaminant or natural toxin in the environment. Examples include acrylamide as a food-processing-induced contaminant, bisphenol A as a food packaging-derived chemical, melamine and related compounds as food adulterants and persistent organic pollutants, and perchlorate as an environmental contaminant. Ochratoxin A, fumonisins, and paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins are examples of naturally occurring toxins whereas sulphites, peanuts, and milk exemplify common allergenic food additives/ingredients. To deal with the increasing number of sample matrixes and analytes of interest, two analytical approaches have become increasingly prevalent. The first has been the development of rapid screening methods for a variety of analytes based on immunochemical techniques, utilising ELISA or surface plasmon resonance technology. The second is the development of highly sophisticated multi-analyte methods based on liquid chromatography coupled with multiple-stage mass spectrometry for identification and simultaneous quantification of a wide range of contaminants, often with much less requirement for tedious cleanup procedures. Whereas rapid screening methods enable testing of large numbers of samples, the multi analyte mass spectrometric methods enable full quantification with confirmation of the analytes of interest. Both approaches are useful when gathering surveillance data to determine occurrence and background levels of both recognised and newly identified contaminants in foods in order to estimate human daily intake for health risk assessment.

Authors: Krska, Rudolf; Becalski, Adam; Braekevelt, Eric; Koerner, Terry; Cao, Xu-Liang; Dabeka, Robert; Godefroy, Samuel; Lau, Ben; Moisey, John; Rawn, Dorothea F. K.; Scott, Peter M.; Wang, Zhongwen; Forsyth, Don ;Full Source: Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2012, 402(1), 139-162 (Eng) ;