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Quantitation of Acrylamide in Food Samples on the Finnigan TSQ Quantum Discovery by LC/APCI-MS/MS

Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry Application Note

Kevin J. McHale, Witold Winnik and Gary Paul
Thermo Electron Corporation, Somerset, NJ, USA

Introduction
Acrylamide has been identified as a potential human carcinogen. This is important not only because acrylamide is a common industrial chemical, but acrylamide was recently discovered to be present at significant levels in food samples,1 particularly cooked foods high in carbohydrates. This has led many government health agencies around the world to assess the risk of short- and longterm exposure to acrylamide in humans.

One means of investigation is the measurement of acrylamide content in various food samples. This has led to the development of LC/MS/MS methodology for the analysis of acrylamide in foodstuffs.1-5 While there exists a GC/MS protocol for the analysis of acrylamide, this method requires extensive sample cleanup and chemical derivatization.6 The advantage of LC/MS/MS is that chemical derivatization is not necessary prior to acrylamide analysis.

To date, most LC/MS/MS methods for the assay of acrylamide have utilized an electrospray ionization (ESI) source for the production of acrylamide ions.1-4 Yet it is well known that ESI-MS is problematic when highly aqueous solutions, such as those required for the reversed-phase LC separation of acrylamide, are used.7 On the other hand, water does not pose a problem for the formation of a stable corona discharge used in APCI. One published report has demonstrated that APCI is a viable ion source for the production of acrylamide ions for LC/MS/MS detection.5 Furthermore, a study comparing ESI and APCI ion sources for the LC/MS/MS analysis of acrylamide showed that under the same chromatographic conditions, APCI-MS/MS yielded an improved detection limit.8

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