Food and Agriculture


The characteristic aroma and flavor of many of our most beloved drinks – such as beer, whisky and coffee – have strong dependence on the relative concentrations of constituent compounds. These beverages contain a rich array of molecules, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and isomeric mixtures. Subtle changes in composition can significantly affect the palatability of a beverage.  Currently, analysis of flavor and aroma compounds is commonly carried out by GC-MS. Even though GC-MS techniques can exhibit high separation power, they lack speed due to sometimes cumbersome sample separation and analysis times of usually more than 30 minutes. TOFWERK offers multiple online solutions to complement or replace traditional GC-MS methods.

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The demands for food analysis are manifold: national and international regulations require the food industry to monitor food composition to ensure quality and safety, whereas consumers are interested in nutritious and flavorful products. These demands can be met by state-of-the-art analytical technology such as the TOFWERK IMS-TOF. For example, together with Nestlé we were able to show that IMS-MS is rapid and powerful alternative to LC-MS/MS for sensitive detection of monochloropropane-diol esters (MCPDE) in vegetable oils which is both important for the taste and the safety of vegetable oil-containing food products.

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The interactions of plants with their environment determine their survival in nature and yields in agriculture. Plants can release specific VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to attract beneficial organisms and can detect VOCs as environmental cues.  The Vocus PTR-TOF provides fast, real-time VOC measurements at ultra–low concentrations while preserving molecular identity.  Our unique autosampler integration enables quasi-simultaneous, real-time monitoring of over 100 samples with a single mass spectrometer.

In plant studies it is often important to detect and quantify certain trace elements and to visualize their distribution within the tissue. Such data inform questions about the transport pathways and behavior of key nutrients. The icpTOF is capable of high resolution imaging of trace elements in plant tissue.

Plant extracts or nutrition from natural sources contain a rich array of molecules, many of which exist as isomeric mixtures. Subtle changes in the ratio of such isomers can significantly affect their properties, e.g. strongly change the medicinal efficacy of a natural remedy. It is therefore crucial to be able to characterize the active molecules in these natural mixtures; yet, the detection of isomeric substances poses a major obstacle in many cases. The IMS-TOF allows rapid characterization such complex sample with sufficient separation power to allow determination of the isomeric purity.

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