QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe) sample preparation methodology is the de facto standard for preparing food samples before liquid and gas chromatography-based analysis. LC/MS and GC/MS provide the analytical power. However, for food samples, as for most complex analyses, the quality of the sample being loaded onto the column can drive the overall success of an investigation. The complex matrix includes components that may affect all aspects of the result: accuracy, reproducibility, and efficiency. Implementing QuEChERS sample preparation allows these interfering matrix compounds to be selectively removed. It means that reliable analysis of trace amounts of pesticides, veterinary drugs, or other analytes of interest can be made.
With a ‘standard’ methodology, all the challenges the analyst faces are in the past – right? Not quite. Let’s consider how to get more out of the method, and the QuEChERS products you use.
Simple to choose and easy to use – innovation for improved performance
QuEChERS is easy. Just three steps: extraction/partitioning, dispersive SPE, then analysis by LC/MS or GC/MS. Its simplicity conceals a range of choices. The original extraction, the AOAC method variant 2007.01 and the EN method 15662, each call for specific combinations of salts for extraction. There are also varying recipes for the dispersive SPE mix, depending on sample type.
Using a comprehensive online selection guide, Agilent presents all the options in a straightforward website tool. Users are guided through a Q&A to QuEChERS product recommendations that are tailored to their needs and their sample matrix.
Simplicity shouldn’t stop at product selection. Working with such well-defined methods means that manufacturers have scope to add innovations that makes a user’s life easier. For example, unlike other suppliers of QuEChERS extraction kits, Agilent Bond Elut QuEChERS salts and buffers are preweighed and packaged in easy-tear anhydrous slim-pouches. The simplicity removes variability and improves analytical performance, as well as allowing salts to be added after the solvent. Therefore minimizing any exothermic reaction that could compromise analyte recovery.
Agilent offers dispersive SPE kits with sorbents and salts supplied in 2 or 15 mL centrifuge tubes – the aliquot volumes specified by AOAC and EN methodologies. Select the extraction salts and dispersive SPE kit suited to the type of food being analyzed and the method variant you are following. Using the kit means that you know that all components are tested to ensure exceptional cleanliness and accuracy.
Even the smallest innovation can make a significant impact. Ceramic homogenizers are included in selected Agilent Bond Elut QuEChERS kits. They break up salt agglomerates and consistently grind the sample. In turn, the required extraction time is cut from 60 seconds to as little as 20 seconds – a time saving of 70 % per sample. In addition, they minimize any variation in technique between technicians.
Originally, QuEChERS was introduced for the analysis of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables. The sample matrix had high water and low fat content. As the technique gained in popularity, the analysis of other compounds in many food products created the need for kits to cope with other matrices. It is especially useful for samples with high lipid concentrations. Lipids can compromise analysis as well as contaminate the LC or GC/MS over time, increasing maintenance and associated downtime.
Against this background, Agilent introduced an Enhanced Matrix Removal —Lipid (EMR-Lipid) product. Bond Elut QuEChERS EMR–Lipid incorporates an innovative sorbent that fits neatly into the QuEChERS workflow. It works to effectively remove lipid co-extractives from high-fat foods, without compromising the recovery of target compounds. As a result, labs can perform more selective and reliable analyses, and significantly reduce instrument maintenance.
Stay ahead of the game with insight from an experienced partner
Industry surveys regularly highlight the intangible, nonproduct aspects of a relationship between user and manufacturer. Experience, responsiveness, and trust are often top of the list. It is why we offer the industry’s most comprehensive range of QuEChERS kits available today and make our experience and insight accessible to all. Keep up to date with what’s new in food testing and agriculture, view webinars, and read about the latest research by joining our LinkedIn page.
A support package to add knowledge and value
Got questions about QuEChERS? Watch Agilent experts Joni Stevens and Ron Majors explain the core concepts surrounding the QuEChERS method and share their knowledge of best practice for sample preparation. Download their notes to learn more about the technique and methodology.
Expert guidance on QuEChERS techniques is also provided in the Agilent Food Testing Applications Book. Volume 2 is available now, request a copy here.
Agilent is committed to developing end-to-end workflow analysis solutions to help laboratories validate quality and authenticity of food products to safeguard the global food chain.