Rapid HPLC-MS/MS detection of acrylamide in coffee

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Acrylamide has toxicity characteristics and suspected carcinogenicity cases and, consequently, its determination in food products is vital to the health of consumers. In a recent study, carried out by a group of Italian researchers (Bortolomeazzi et al., 2013), a new method has been proposed, based on the use of liquid chromatography interfaced with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS), able to quickly detect the presence of this toxin in roasted coffee beans. In particular, acrylamide is extracted in water and purified using a SPE column (solid phase extraction). The composition of the latter has been optimized to minimize the interference with some compounds present in the grains (melanoidine, trigonelline, chlorogenic acid and caffeine). The authors show that the analytical procedure does not involve complex operations since it simply consists in injecting 1 mL of the aqueous extract, followed by 1 mL of pure water through the SPE column. Now the sample is ready for HPLC-MS/MS analysis. The method was validated using samples prepared from coffee beans of different origins subjected to different toasting levels. The results demonstrate that the proposed procedure is highly reproducible (with an error of less than 5%) and recovery levels of target compound (i.e., acrylamide) vary in the range 92-95%. Moreover the authors point out that the limits of detection are equal to 5 μg kg-1. In conclusion, the proposed method provides similar results to those provided by much more complex procedures and, therefore, it can be usefully used as a routine method for the detection of acrylamide in roasted coffee beans.

Bibliographic references
R. Bortolomeazzi et al., Food Chemistry, 135, 2012, 2687-2693