Validation of a high-throughput method for analysis of pesticide residues in hemp and hemp products

Validation of a high-throughput method for analysis of pesticide residues in hemp and hemp products

J Chromatogr A. 2021 Mar 27;1645:462097. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2021.462097. Online ahead of print.


Hemp has been an agricultural commodity for millennia, and it has been undergoing a resurgence in interest and production due to its high content of cannabinoids, protein, fiber and other ingredients. For legal possession and use throughout the USA, hemp and hemp products must have delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration < 0.3%. As with most crops, pesticides may be applied when farming hemp, which need to be monitored in food, feed, and medicinal products. The aim of this work was to evaluate and validate the recently developed "quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, safe, efficient, and robust" (QuEChERSER) sample preparation mega-method to determine pesticide residues in hemp plants, flowers, powders, oils, and pellets. High-throughput analysis of final extracts for 106 targeted pesticides and metabolites from North American monitoring lists entailed: 1) ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography – tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS) with column back-flushing, and 2) instrument-top sample preparation + low-pressure gas chromatography (ITSP+LPGC-MS/MS). In QuEChERSER, 2 g sample is extracted with 10 mL 4/1 (v/v) acetonitrile/water by mechanical shaking for 10 min, followed by 3 min centrifugation. For LC, 0.2 mL of extract is taken and solvent exchanged into initial mobile phase followed by 5 min ultra-centrifugation prior to the 10 min analysis. For GC-amenable pesticides, the remaining initial extract is partitioned with 4/1 (w/w) anh. MgSO4/NaCl, and 1 mL is taken for automated ITSP cleanup in parallel with 10 min LPGC analysis. In the former case, the UHPLC column is back-flushed with 1/1 (v/v) methanol/acetonitrile for 3 min between each injection to keep the system clean and avoid ghost peaks. Multi-level, multi-day validation results achieved 70-120% recoveries with RSDs < 20% for more than 80% of the analytes in hemp protein powder, oil, pellets, and fresh plant (dried hemp plant and flower were too complex). Limits of quantification (LOQs) were 13,000 analyte results in the spiked samples. The QuEChERSER method was demonstrated to meet the challenge for several complex hemp matrices.

PMID:33848664 | DOI:10.1016/j.chroma.2021.462097

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