Application Note ReView: Monitoring Acrylamide in Real-Time During Food Production Using SIFT-MS


15th July 2022

Acrylamide, Food Analysis, SIFT-MS,

acrylamide, monitoring, siftms


Food production processes, particularly those that involve heating, are responsible for the formation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these VOCs may be important for the flavour of the finished product, whilst others can be considered contaminants and may be of toxicological concern. Therefore, this edition of Application Note ReView takes a look at AS241 – Monitoring Acrylamide in Real-Time During Food Production Using SIFT-MS.

Acrylamide, a known potential carcinogen, is produced by the Maillard (browning) reaction during the baking, roasting and frying of foods.  Acrylamide legislation (EU commission regulation 2017/2158) establishes best practice, mitigation and benchmark levels for the reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food. These regulations mean food manufacturers are required to have a general understanding of how acrylamide is formed in the food they produce.

As Acrylamide is a polar, low molecular weight compound, analysis presents some challenges, both chromatographically and due to a lack of significant fragmentation for detection by mass spectrometry.

Several methods are available in the literature for the analysis of finished products, including GC-MS (generally after derivatisation) and LC-MS. As these approaches are difficult to implement at-line, testing tends to be on a batch release basis, giving rise to the possibility of failed batches or product recalls.

Existing methods of analysis using liquid chromatography and gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (LC-MS and GC-MS) do not allow for the real time monitoring of acrylamide which would enable food manufacturers to better understand and control their processes.

Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) is a realtime volatile organic compounds (VOC) analyser, enabling real-time VOC analysis and monitoring of acrylamide throughout the production process. Detection limits as low as parts-per-trillion by volume (pptv) are achievable, eliminating the need for sample preparation or preconcentration.


syft, technologies, SIFT-MS, TD-SIFT-MS, high-throughput, btex, btex analysis, analysis

Syft Technologies SIFT-MS


As the route of formation of acrylamide is through the Maillard reaction, a method that could provide a real-time response during food processing is desirable to help food manufacturers better understand and control their processes.

Real-time analysis provides data throughout the process not only on compounds that may be of toxicological concern, but also key flavour components. Therefore it can be used to provide real time control as opposed to finished product testing. This can be used in new product development, pilot plant trials, or full production process monitoring to ensure specifications are met.

The inherent speed of analysis of SIFT-MS provides more definitive profiles for acrylamide and other volatile compounds which are monitored in real time. Using this approach to measure ‘in- production’ real time concentrations could lead to a reduction in waste product having both a financial and environmental benefit.

By understanding the production process more closely, the mitigation steps taken to eliminate potentially harmful contaminants can be designed during product development prior to scale up to factory production.


Download Application Note As241 and learn more about the ability of SIFT-MS to measure acrylamide in an industrial food production process, along with other volatile compounds.


About the Authors:


mark perkins_applications chemist

Mark Perkins, Senior Applications Chemist and SIFT-MS Specialist

“I joined Anatune in April 2015 in the role of Applications Chemist. I was formerly with TARRC where I was head of the Materials Characterisation Unit.

In my time at TAARC, I gained 12 years’ experience in polymer R&D, testing and analysis, having joined the company in 2002 as a Senior Analyst running the gas and liquid chromatography section.

I graduated from the University of Southampton with a BSc (Hons) degree in Chemistry in 1992, followed by a PhD in electrochemistry.

Here at Anatune, I am a Senior Applications Chemist and Product Specialist for our range of SIFT-MS products.”


Kathy Ridgway, Senior Application Chemist

Kathy Ridgway, Senior Application Chemist

“I gained my first degree from the University of Surrey and during more than ten years working for Unilever Research, I completed my PhD at the University of Loughborough entitled “Determination of trace contaminants in food”. My work focused upon alternative extraction techniques, in particular stir bar sorptive extraction to examine taints and off-flavours in foods.

Before joining Anatune, I worked as a technical specialist for RSSL in Reading.

I have published papers, contributed chapters to several books and written a review on the topic of off-flavours and taints in food. I have also been a long-term customer of Anatune and have used GERSTEL instrumentation extensively.

I am a Chartered Chemist, an active member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, in particular as a member of the food group committee.  I am also a season ticket holder and enthusiastic supporter of Everton FC.

I joined Anatune as a GC-MS applications chemist in June 2014.  I love the variety of applications that we see in the lab.  Working with our customers to provide an automated solution that works for them is very satisfying.”


Jamie Minaeian, Support Engineer

Jamie Minaeian, Senior Support Engineer & SIFT-MS Specialist

“I joined Anatune in September 2017 as an Applications Chemist.

I completed my PhD in September 2016 in Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of York. I gained experience of GC/MS and thermal desorption, along with atmospheric measurements of VOCs.  During my PhD, I was frequently sent out across the world to investigate atmospheric composition, in locations such as the Arctic Circle, Guam and the Falkland Islands.

Following on from this, I spent six months in New Zealand, working for Syft Technologies in Christchurch. Here, I gained experience with several aspects of the instrument, as well as troubleshooting and diagnostics and look forward to bringing this experience to our customers.”



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