Journal of Chromatography A (2014), 1358, 136--144 DOI: 10.1016/j.chroma.2014.06.092
There is a raising demand for sensitive and high throughput MS based methods for screening purposes especially tailored to the detection of allergen contaminants in different food commodities. A challenging issue is represented by complex food matrices where the antibody-based kits commercially available might encounter objective limitations consequently to epitope masking phenomena due to a multitude of interfering compounds arising from the matrix. The performance of a method duly optimized for the extraction and simultaneous detection of soy, egg and milk allergens in a cookie food matrix by microHPLC–ESI-MS/MS, is herein reported. Thanks to the innovative configuration and the versatility shown by the dual cell linear ion trap MS used, the most intense and reliable peptide markers were first identified by untargeted survey experiment, and subsequently employed to design an ad hoc multi-target SRM method, based on the most intense transitions recorded for each selected precursor peptide. A sample extraction and purification protocol was optimized also including an additional step based on sonication, which resulted in a considerable improvement in the detection of milk allergen peptides. Data Dependent™ Acquisition scheme allowed to fill out a tentative list of potential peptide markers, which were further filtered upon fulfilling specific requirements. A total of eleven peptides were monitored simultaneously for confirmation purposes of each allergenic contaminant and the two most sensitive peptide markers/protein were selected in order to retrieve quantitative information. Relevant LODs were found to range from 0.1 mug/g for milk to 0.3 mug/g for egg and 2 mug/g for soy.