Authors: Ádám Tölgyesi, László Tölgyesi, Lászlóné Békési, Sharma K. Virender, Jenő Fekete
In the Europea Union, maximum residue limits of pharmacologically active substances are determined by Commission Regulation (EU) No 37/2010. Residue analysis usually requires liquid chromatographic separation, coupled with optical or mass spectrometric detection. The latter detection method has become widespread by now in food testing laboratories and, because of its high selectivity, it can be used relatively easily for the measurement of complex samples. In the case of mass spectrometric detection coupled with liquid chromatographic separation, sample preparation can be reduced practically to a solid-liquid extraction, followed by a dilution or a solvent exchange, if the procedure is to be used as a screening method. When using the above-mentioned coupled technique as a confirmation method, in most cases a procedure without clean-up can only be achieved by coupling with an isotope dilution method. This is so, because – despite their relative simplicity and despite being a measurement with no interference – liquid chromatographic-mass spectrometric methods require thorough optimization both in sample preparation and in the subsequent instrumental analysis, because the accuracy of the measurements could be greatly influenced by matrix components that are co-eluted with the target components but which are invisible to the measurement technique. To compensate for matrix effects, matrix-matched calibration or the isotope dilution method is usually used, but even these procedures do not always provide good or even available solutions, and so optical detection sometimes proves to be better (e.g. the determination of tetracyclines). A unique variation of the isotope dilution method is the exact-matching double isotope dilution mass spectrometry, which has a special place in the determination of the reference values of control samples.