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Team TFS
Team TFS
pesticides analysis in fruits and vegetables 2I was recently made aware of a publication that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Wang et al, 2014, 62 (42), pp 10375-10391), titled,Ultrahigh-Performance Liquid Chromatography Electrospray Ionization Q-Orbitrap Mass Spectrometry for..., (link to article abstract).

This is the most comprehensive validation of a UHPLC/ESI Q-Orbital trap for the quantification and identification of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables that I know of and I was really pleased to read the study.

Great work by researchers from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (link to website), Jian Wang and Willis Chow, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (link to website), Jon W. Wong, and one of our Senior Applications Chemist, James Chang.

The method can separate, rapidly quantify and accurately identify around 450 pesticides in fruits and vegetables at low (QuEChERs extraction procedure. The UHPLC/ESI Q-Orbitrap MS (Thermo Scientific QExactive mass spectrometer with the Thermo Scientific Accela 1250 UHPLC system) was evaluated and operated in full MS scan mode for screening and quantification, and the full MS/dd-MS (i.e. data-dependent scan) mode was demonstrated for identification. The method developed will be a powerful tool for the determination of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables. The sample extraction used was also quick and simple enough to allow for high-throughput testing of routine samples, which greatly benefits monitoring programs while satisfying regulatory compliance.

Four hundred fifty-one pesticides and three isotopically labeled standards were chromatographically separated within 12 minutes under a gradient profile using our C18 selectivity HPLC column (Thermo Scientific Hypersil GOLD HPLC column; 100 mm × 2.1 mm, 1.9 μm), which provided better chromatographic resolution and higher responses compared to other columns evaluated in this publication.

I also found an on-demand webinar by Jon Wong on this topic which is well worth viewing, titled, Development and Applications of Liquid Chromatography-High Resolution Mass Spectrometry for the Anal..., (link to webinar; registration is required after which the webinar starts playing).

Pesticides are widely used in various combinations at different stages of cultivation and during post harvest storage. It is important to control or regulate the uses of pesticides in crop production and to monitor compliance with Maximum Residue Levels to assist international trade and to ensure the safety of the food supply.

Additional Resources

Check out our Food Community and Pesticides Community, which feature the latest on-demand webinars, videos, application notes, and more.

Is High Resolution Accurate Mass Spectrometry the way forward for pesticide residue testing (qualitative screening and quantification of residues) in your laboratory? We would love to hear your thoughts.


Jennifer Massi is a former genomics scientist who contributed to the sequencing of the human genome through the Human Genome Project and now works on connecting laboratories with food safety testing workflows. Her journey from science research to marketing has spanned developing marketing strategies for consumables for genomics and proteomics, developing educational programs for sample preparation, chromatography, and mass spectrometry, and developing relationships with regulatory agencies and key opinion leaders. Jennifer is a market development manager for the food and beverage markets in the chromatography and mass spectrometry division at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. Jennifer completed her B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Honors at UC Santa Cruz and received an M.B.A., Honors, from Saint Mary’s College of California.