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Detection of Low Molecular Weight Adulterants in Beverages by Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry



Edward R. Sisco, Jeffrey Dake


Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS) has been used to detect the presence of non-narcotic adulterants in beverages. The non-narcotic adulterants that were examined in this work incorporated a number low molecular weight alcohols, acetone, ammonium hydroxide, and sodium hypochlorite. It was found that detection of these compounds in the complex matrices of common beverages (soda, energy drinks, etc.) was simplified through the use of a dopant species to allow for adduct formation with the desired compound(s) of interest. Sensitivities of the technique were found to range from 0.001 % v/v to 0.1 % v/v, comparable to traditional analysis completed using headspace gas chromatography mass spectrometry (HS-GC/MS). To simulate real world detection, fifteen beverages were spiked with each of the nine adulterants and in nearly all cases the adulterant could be detected either in pure form, or complexed with the added dopant species. This technique provides a rapid way to directly analyze beverages believed to be contaminated with non-narcotic adulterants at sensitivities similar to or exceeding those of traditional confirmatory analyses.
Analytical Methods


DART Mass Spectrometry, Forensic Science, Adulterants, Food Safety
Created March 17, 2016, Updated November 10, 2018