Food Analytical Methods

, Volume 11, Issue 8, pp 2043–2055 | Cite as

Determination of Antimicrobial Residues in Honey by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry

  • Ádám Tölgyesi
  • Enikő Barta
  • Mary Sohn
  • Virender K. Sharma


Antibiotics are generally used worldwide against bacterial diseases in the treatment of food-producing animals. Since the residues of active agents or their metabolites can appear in these foods, the European Union, for instance, has set maximum residue limit concentrations for authorised veterinary drugs in foodstuffs. However, as yet, regulatory limits have not been established for honey and thus far, only recommendations exist. The aim of this study is to present a multiscreening method for residues in honey for the determination of 36 antimicrobial residues associated with several antibiotics of the B1 group (sulfonamides, trimethoprim, aminoglycosides, tetracyclines, quinolones and lincomycin) as well as the antibiotic griseofulvin. During the screening analysis, samples are hydrolysed in an acidified medium, purified on polymeric solid-phase extraction cartridges and subsequently analysed by reversed phase ion pair liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. The liquid chromatographic separation was optimised by computer simulation with DryLab software. The positive identification of target compounds in suspicious samples was confirmed using earlier developed antibiotic class specific methods of which the aminoglycoside method is herein described in detail. The developed approaches were then applied to samples in the national monitoring program after their successful validation. Moreover, the screening and confirmatory methods were applied to proficiency test samples resulting in satisfactory identification and quantification. However, the analysis of real samples revealed that co-eluting target compounds can have considerable influence on the accuracy of this semi-quantitative multiscreening method.


Antimicrobial residues Honey Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry Screening Confirmation Proficiency test 



We wish to acknowledge the assist of Éva Pálffi, Tímea Kremniczky and Viktória Lipcsei in the sample preparations. Authors would like to thank Szabolcs Fekete for improving the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Consent for Publication

Publication has been approved by all individual participants.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Food Chain Safety Office, Food and Feed Safety DirectorateFood Toxicological National Reference LaboratoryBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of Inorganic and Analytical ChemistryBudapest University of Technology and EconomicsBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry, Florida Institute of Technology150 West University BoulevardMelbourneUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental and Occupational HealthSchool of Public Health, Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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