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13th June 2017  Content supplied by: Waters Corporation

Real-time Direct-From-Sample Food Analysis Using Mass Spectrometry

Waters Corporation has introduced its new LiveID™ Software for near-instantaneous, direct-from-sample measurement and classification of food products including meat and crops by Waters’ quadrupole, time-of-flight (QTof) mass spectrometers.

The new software enables Waters® Xevo® G2-XS QTof or SYNAPT® G2-Si Mass Spectrometers equipped with an iKnife™ Sampling device, Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS™) ion source and MassLynx® Mass Spectrometry Software to help laboratories detect food fraud. Waters LiveID Software is now available on a worldwide basis.

“Information on food samples separated in time and space from where it is needed most isn’t efficient and hurts productivity. We’ve designed LiveID Software to make the process of getting real-time information about samples as intuitive, as quick and as easy as possible,” said Ronan O’Malley, Senior Director of Informatics Products, Waters Corporation.

Food fraud - when food is labelled and sold as something that it is not - is a growing and pernicious problem that funds organized crime, cheats consumers and jeopardizes the reputation of food producers and the health of economies dependent on food exports.

In recent years, QTof mass spectrometry has emerged as a promising technique for detecting food fraud. One who has pioneered its use for this application is Professor Chris Elliott, Director – Institute for Global Food Security, Queens University Belfast. “The REIMS QTof technology platform has the potential to revolutionize food authenticity analysis due to its speed and ability to detect multiple issues simultaneously that impact the integrity of the food we eat. I am not aware of any other technology developments that will provide this level of support to the food industry.”

Faster than conventional techniques like immunosassay and PCR, mass spectrometry enabled by LiveID Software produces definitive results in seconds. With iKnife Sampling and REIMS, no sample pretreatment or separation is typically necessary. When the hand-held iKnife sampling device comes in contact with a sample of animal or plant tissue or other processed foodstuffs such as butter, it creates smoke containing compound-specific molecules which are directed to the REIMS source where the molecules are ionized and then passed on to be detected by the mass spectrometer. In very little time, the LiveID software then creates a molecular profile or chemical fingerprint of the sample, compares it to a user-generated database of reference fingerprints and then classifies the sample as belonging to one of a number of sample types or groupings.

Waters introduced iKnife Sampling and REIMS technologies to its QTof mass spectrometers in 2015. Since then, Waters has evolved the design of the REIMS source to make real-time decision-making using mass spectrometry straightforward and accessible by researchers who wish to explore the potential of the technology.

Application areas include:

  • Confirmation of sample authenticity for foods and bulk chemicals
  • Food fraud
  • Plant phenotyping in herbicide research
  • Microbe classification
  • Bioengineering research

For more information on the Waters LiveID software, see


Date Published: 13th June 2017

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