Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (2017), 409, 22, 5201--5207 DOI: 10.1007/s00216-017-0506-4
The recent detection of nuts (including peanut) in spices across the globe has led to enormous recalls of several spices and food products in the last two years. The lack of validated detection methods specific for spices makes it difficult to assess allergen presence at trace levels. Because of the urgent need for confirmation of possible peanut presence in chili peppers, an LC-MS/MS method was optimized and developed for this particular food matrix. Although several studies optimized LC-MS detection strategies specific for peanuts, the presence of complex components in the spices (e.g., phenolic components) makes method optimization and validation necessarily. Focus was laid on validation of the method with real incurred chili peppers (whereby a known amount of peanut is added) at low concentrations, to deal with possible matrix interferences. LC-MS/MS proves to be a good alternative to the currently most applied methods (ELISA and RT-PCR) and can be used as a complementary method of analysis when results are unclear. Peanut marker peptides were selected based on their abundancy in digested incurred chili peppers. The limit of detection was determined to be 24 ppm (mg peanut/kg), a level whereby the risk for potential allergic reactions is zero, considering the typical portion size of spices. The chili pepper powder under investigation proved to contain low levels of peanuts after LC-MS/MS, ELISA, and RT-PCR testing.