Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 395, Issue 4, pp 947–966

Recent applications of liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry to residue analysis of antimicrobials in food of animal origin



Residual antimicrobials in food constitute a risk to human health. Although epidemiological data on the real magnitude of their adverse effects are very scarce, they indicate that food could be an important vehicle for evolution and dissemination of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Public health agencies in many countries rely on detection by mass spectrometry (MS) for unambiguous identification of residues of antimicrobial agents in animal food products for human consumption. The introduction of relatively inexpensive and robust liquid chromatography (LC)–MS systems has given a strong impulse to the development of confirmatory methods for the above medicines in foodstuffs. The initial part of this review, after a brief introduction into the field of antimicrobials, is dedicated to the most important EU regulations and directives for control of residues of these substances in animal products. The main attention in this review is on the sample-treatment and MS detection systems in use today for analysing the most important classes of antimicrobials in various biological matrices (milk, animal tissues, eggs, and honey). As evidenced by this review, reversed-phase LC combined with tandem MS, usually triple-quadrupole MS (QqQMS), is currently the preferred technique in most residue analysis of a single-class of antimicrobials. A recently emerging analytical strategy is that of developing methods for detecting a large variety of veterinary drugs belonging to different classes, including pesticides (multi-class residue analysis). To do this, simple and generic extraction and separation techniques applicable to a broad range of compounds differing in physical and chemical properties have been adopted. Such methods are still based mainly on LC–QqQMS. Emerging alternative MS detection systems are time-of-flight MS, which provides accurate mass of the analyte(s), or Q–linear ion trap (IT) MS that eliminates some limitations of ITMSn.


Drug monitoring/drug screening Extraction (SFE, SPE, SPME) HPLC Foods/beverages Mass spectrometry, ICP–MS 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di ChimicaUniversità “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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