The recently launched Bruker EVOQ Qube™, a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS), operated in multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode has been developed with the capability for detecting and confirming trace levels of chloramphenicol (CAP) in milk matrix with minimal sample preparation.

Chloramphenicol is a broad spectrum antibiotic introduced into clinical practice in 1949. Due to reported adverse side effects, such as bone marrow suppression and idiosyncratic aplastic anemia CAP’s has been banned from use for human or food animals in many countries such as the United States. European Union decision 2003/181/EC states that any detected level of chloramphenicol in milk is prohibited, and methods for chloramphenicol detection must meet or exceed the Minimum Required Performance Level (MRPL) of 0.3 ppb.

A blank milk matrix is prepared using whole milk, with the slurry being centrifuged and the resulting mixture syringe filtered and spiked with varying amounts of CAP (98%) with 0.3 ppb as an internal standard. A six-level matrix matched calibration curve from 0.020 to 1.0 ppb was generated with each level analyzed in triplicate. Excellent linearity was obtained and the spiked sample showed clear detection of CAP at 0.02 ppb.

With food legislation constantly under review to combat the very real risk of food contamination, it becomes more difficult for food testing laboratories to meet the specifications set down by the authorities. The health risk due to CAP exposure, especially for infants and children, has pushed identification of CAP in milk to the forefront. The Bruker EVOQ Qube can quickly and accurately analyze milk matrices using LC-MS/MS for trace amounts of CAP. Quantifying concentrations as low as 0.02 ppb means it easily surpasses the MRPL set by many authorities of 0.3 ppb. To download the Bruker Application Note go to