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Asia Pacific: SCIEX releases study that detects low levels of Pesticide 1080 in hours

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SCIEX’s application team is developing a new method for screening of monofluoroacetic acid (MFA), also known as ‘1080’.

In 2008, a melamine milk scandal posed new challenges for the China dairy industry, to which SCIEX responded with an analytical method to test for melamine in milk.

More recently, the chemical compound DCD was suspected of being in milk in Asia, and the company responded with a method to test for DCD and similar compounds in milk.

Another major food safety crisis has evolved in the region, as a national farming body and dairy company have received emails from unknown sources threatening to contaminate its milk and infant formula with a highly toxic pesticide.

The New Zealand government branded the incident as “eco-terrorism”.

Police reported that the threat was intended to pressure New Zealand to stop the use of MFA, a widely used agricultural pesticide to protect plants from rodents and other invasive mammals and insects, which has been banned in many other countries.

Human ingestion of 1080 can cause food poisoning, cardiac abnormalities, muscle twitching, seizures, and coma, among others.

Since New Zealand is one of the world’s largest milk producers and exporters, the threat became a global food safety matter potentially endangering and weakening consumers’ trust in the food supply chain.

The dairy industry, working in tandem with the government and industrial partners, started screening for 1080 to reassure consumers that milk products are safe for consumption.

In the interest of time, a fast and easy-to-implement method is called for by the scientific community.

SCIEX’s preliminary study to screen for 1080 in milk and infant formulae that uses the QTRAP 4500 System involves a simplified sample preparation procedure that does not require derivatization, which can be done within a few hours, and enables detection of MFA at a concentration level below 10 ng/mL in matrix.

The quantitative dynamic range stretches from 0.1 to 100 ng/mL, enabling comprehensive quantitation across a breadth of concentrations, as shown by the initial studies.

Further experiments are planned to increase sensitivity, simplify sample preparation and include an internal standard to correct low recoveries and matrix effects.