Product News: Joint solution provides rapid detection of fatty acid esters in oils and fats

An automated sample management system paired with a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer is said to drastically shorten analysis time

23 Apr 2020


Shimadzu, one of the world leaders in analytical instrumentation, has developed together with Axel Semrau, a solution detecting production-related contaminants in food containing fats and oils. These undesirable substances are MCPD fatty acid ester, glycidyl fatty acid ester and free MCPD (monochloropropane diol). The joint solution consists of a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer and an automated sample management system. It shortens the analysis time from 18 hours to 36 minutes. 
 
Studies have identified the harmful effect of 3-MCPD fatty acid ester, which is known to be a renal toxin, genetically harmful and probably carcinogenic. The substances are unintentionally created through the necessary refining process in the production of oils. As such, they may appear in all refined fats and oils, as well as in all food products in which they are processed. Approx. 95 percent of all vegetable fats and oils are refined. 
 
A real analytical challenge

The analysis of 3-MCPD fatty acid esters and glycidyl fatty acid esters is a real challenge for the food industry. While there are already internationally validated procedures for these substances, an analysis method for processed foods with refined vegetable fats and oils as an ingredient are still in continued development.  
 
The risks of the substances require efficient analysis which can reliably detect the increased content in food products as quickly and simply as possible. For this purpose, the MCPD solution from Shimadzu and Axel Semrau combines a GCMS system with a workstation that automatically conducts the entire sample preparation and analysis process, which is very time-consuming to do manually. It serves as a measurement station for the fully automatic determination of MCPD and glycidol in food products. 
 
High degree of automation ensures efficiency

Since the direct detection of MCPD fatty acid ester is not yet possible due to the unmanageable number of isomers and the lack of suitable standards, the solution from Shimadzu and Semrau uses an indirect method of determining the content of 2-MCPD, 3MCPD and glycidol. This method includes the transesterification of MCPD and glycidyl ester as well as the extraction of the resulting free MCPD and its derivatization. 
 
Users can choose between two triple quadrupoles for the MCPD solution – the GCMSTQ8040 NX or the GCMS-TQ8050 NX:

  • the GCMS-TQ8040, with its sensitivity in the ppt range (one trillionth) for ultra-fast analyses combines high throughput with easy operability. Precise and efficient, it sets the standard for routine analytics: Due to its intelligent technologies, it improves productivity, workflow and performance
  • the GCMS-TQ8050 NX is a high-end system with the lowest detection limits in ultra-trace analysis. It is highly flexible and enables switching between two capillary column between various applications without prior conversion. Complete databases for food analysis are available for both models. 

 
Axel Semrau automated all steps of sample preparation with this application. It is linked online to Shimadzu’s GC-MS system. The software platform CHRONOS controls the system; it optimizes productivity and enables online data validation. Clean samples for injection and rapid analysis are guaranteed. Sample preparation can be done online or offline. 
 
Axel Semrau has drastically shortened the detection process thanks to intelligent sample management. The initial result is ready after just 36 minutes. The bundling of sample preparation and analysis allows up to 30 sample results to be collected per day.

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