Food Analytical Methods

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1591–1607 | Cite as

Development of a Suspect Screening Strategy for Pesticide Metabolites in Fruit and Vegetables by UPLC-Q-Tof-MS

  • Anna Bauer
  • Jens LuetjohannEmail author
  • Sascha Rohn
  • Eckard Jantzen
  • Jürgen Kuballa


A multi-pesticide metabolite screening method using liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-Q-Tof-MS) was developed for the detection of pesticide metabolites in fruit and vegetable samples. Based on a retrospectively created accurate mass compound database, a suspect screening approach was established for pesticides of high concern applied to a wide scope of plant-derived commodities. For each matrix, an individual scope of characteristic pesticides was selected and a scientific library of corresponding metabolites generated. The metabolite database contained a total of 648 pesticide metabolites originating from 58 active compounds. In 500 samples from daily routine analysis, 96 samples with positive detects for a total of 26 pesticides were re-analyzed for the occurrence of corresponding metabolites. Forty-seven different phase-I and phase-II metabolites were identified, respectively. The developed metabolite database can be applied for a suspect screening approach for pesticide metabolites identification in all kinds of fruits and vegetables. By the means of the results of the suspect screening workflow, a targeted screening method by UHPLC-MS/MS was established for individual pesticide metabolites. Positive detects for metabolites may give an unequivocal evidence for an illegal application of plant protection products, even if the active compound is not detectable anymore.


Pesticides Metabolites Suspect screening LC-Q-Tof-MS 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Anna Bauer declares that she has no conflict of interest. Jens Luetjohann declares that she has no conflict of interest. Sascha Rohn declares that she has no conflict of interest. Eckard Jantzen declares that he has no conflict of interest. Jürgen Kuballa declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.

Supplementary material

12161_2017_1143_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research and Development DepartmentGALAB Laboratories GmbHHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Food Chemistry, Hamburg School of Food ScienceUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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