Food Analysis

How to analyse mycotoxins in multi-grain and corn cereals without derivatization by LC-MS/MS

This application note from PerkinElmer details an effective, reliable and robust LC-MS/MS method, using time-managed MRM (Multiple Reaction Monitoring) transitions, for the monitoring of mycotoxins
in multi-grain and corn cereals at low µg/kg levels, without the need for derivatization.

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Mycotoxins in feed, crops and various foods are known to pose a serious health hazard to both livestock and humans. They are produced by fungi as toxic secondary metabolites, with grains, maize and cereals being particularly vulnerable. With this in mind, and considering that an estimated 25% of all crops show some signs of mycotoxin contamination, many countries have established regulatory guidelines for maximum mycotoxin limits in not only feed and grain, but also in processed food products, notably cereal and baby food.

The current global regulatory limits for mycotoxins in processed cereals are detailed within this application note in Table 1. The most demanding of these are for mycotoxin B1 (2 μg/kg maximum in EU) and ochratoxin A (3 μg/kg maximum in EU and Singapore).

The analyzed mycotoxins in this study included aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2, ochratoxin A, HT-2 and T-2 toxins, ergocristine and fumonisins F-B1 and F-B2.

For the chromatographic separations, a PerkinElmer UHPLC System was used with a PerkinElmer QSight® 210 MS/MS detector. All instrument control, analysis and data processing.


  • Repeatable chromatography was achieved in under seven minutes with all eight mycotoxins resolved.
  • The LOQs were below the established regulatory limits in processed cereal for all analyzed mycotoxins, achieved by LC-MS/MS with time-managed MRMs, without the need for pre- or post-column derivatization.
  • There was minimal ion suppression in the supernatant from the spiked extractions, allowing for simple, convenient sample preparation by liquid extraction.
  • For analyte confirmation, product ion ratios could be used well below the regulatory concentration limits for all the analytes in this study.
  • Though quantitatable levels of T-2 were found in both cereals, they were considerably below regulatory limits.

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