LC/Single Quadrupole MS for Food

A single quadrupole MS (SQMS) system is a mass analyzer with one mass-filtering cluster. SQMS, particularly when paired with UHPLC, is a technique that is becoming more prevalent in routine food analyses, including the detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides and aflatoxins. Traditional methods of food analysis have typically used higher-performing instruments, such as LC/MS/MS or triple quadrupole MS sys-tems.

The recent attention to food quality has yielded more widespread adoption of MS in general, with SQMS instruments often employed to confirm LC results in food and agricultural labs. In these typically high-throughput environments, SQMS is used to initially screen food. If necessary, more precise instrumentation can be used for subsequent analysis.

The need to trace contamination and adulteration in the various stages of food production has become increasingly important for the agriculture and food industries. SQMS instruments serve this purpose well, allowing multiple checks at different stages of production. With their relatively small lab footprints and ease of use, SQMS units are well suited for simultaneous monitoring of several production lines of food and agriculture.

The competitive landscape of the SQMS market is represented by only a handful of vendors. These same vendors are the major players in the SQMS segment for LC applications in the food and agriculture industries, which account for higher instrument demand than other application sectors.

Agilent Technologies is one of the primary vendors in this market. Instruments in its 6100 series LC/SQMS can incorporate multiple sources and have mass ranges of up to 3,000 m/z and scan speeds of up to 10,000 Da/s.

Waters is another major provider of SQMS instrumentation and has two flagship products: the SQ Detector 2 and the ACQUITY QDa. The SQ Detector 2 is a high-end SQMS instrument with a mass range of 3,072 m/z and scan speeds of up to 15,000 Da/s. The ACQUITY QDa is a streamlined and simplified “one-button” unit meant for easy system integration and intuitive ease of use.

Another vendor for LC/SQMS is Shimadzu, which offers the LCMS-2020, a high-speed instrument capable of increased sensitivity analysis. The LCMS-2020 features unique high-speed polarity switching, enabling the instrument to analyze a wide breadth of compounds with a high limit of detection, regardless of polarity.

The total market for LC/SQMS in the food and agriculture industries, including initial systems, aftermarket and service, is approximately $25 million. It is expected that the increasing emphasis on quality applications within these industries will spur strong double-digit growth over the next five years.

LC/Single Quadrupole MS

for Food at a Glance:

Leading Suppliers

• Agilent Technologies

• Waters

• Thermo Fisher Scientific


• Food

• Agriculture

Instrument Cost

• $30,000–$125,000

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