Food and Drug Safety

Contamination of food and drugs is a problem across the entire global supply chain. Quality standards provide an essential safety net for contamination and adulteration challenges facing food and drug manufacturers and processors.

Food and Drug Safety image

What is the difference between food and drug contamination and adulteration?

Chemical contamination and adulteration are different, although they both contain a substance that is not intended to be in a product. Chemical contamination results from an unintended action, and usually from a failure in manufacturing or quality control processes. In contrast, adulteration is generally maliciously motivated. It often employs the intentional replacement, alteration or dilution of an expected ingredient with a less expensive alternative. An example of adulteration is the addition of melamine to milk products and pet food to falsify the expected levels of protein.

Food and drug safety also rely on the quality  and  origin  of  raw  materials,  the  development  of  the  production process as well as packaging and storage. For example, the growth of bacteria and mould  can deteriorate the quality of raw materials and final products and may disturb the production process.

How to detect contamination and adulteration in food and drugs

Technology for Food and Drug Safety Testing

Standard analytical techniques like  gas/liquid  chromatography  and  mass  spectrometry have been used for drug and food contamination detection. These techniques are lab-based, time consuming and expensive and all require pre-concentration of the sample.  Therefore,  on-line  or  on-site  measurements with these techniques  are  challenging to deploy. 

Quality control and formulation development usually involve quantification of components. Many of these, such as amino acids or sugars, are difficult to detect by common LC methods and usually require speciality columns and methods with long run times. 

A fast and sensitive technique such as high performance ion mobility spectrometry that enables at-line and on-site detection of the relevant volatiles and non-volatile chemicals is a powerful tool in the field of food and drug quality and safety control.

Download our brochure

HPIMS for Food and Drug Contamination Detection

HPIMS provides trustworthy results, fast.

A robust, sensitive, and fieldable method, high performance ion mobility spectrometry is ideal for the detection of counterfeit drugs and contaminated food. 

On-site inspection of food and drug products is critical for consumer safety. Frequent testing at a manufacturing facility ensures that the products being made are viable, and inspection of products as they enter ports or supermarkets is critical for public safety. Illegal dyes, sweeteners, or other dangerous additives must be tested for as quickly as possible, often in locations outside of a laboratory setting.

HPIMS has been long established in the security industry because it is fast, robust, and transportable. These same qualities make it advantageous for on-site inspection of food and drugs. Our compact analyzers can be wheeled around a facility on a cart or used in a mobile lab for on-site screening. Analyses can be completed in under one minute by direct sample injection from a syringe into the Directspray source or off of a swab into the thermal desorber.

Batches must be regularly tested to make sure that they are not contaminated or counterfeit, and this can involve a very high volume of samples. By setting up an HPIMS system with an autosampler in a lab, a high volume of samples can be run over a short time period.

With Excellims’ HPIMS you can:

  • Identify problems as soon as they occur: 
  • Quickly identify if there are contaminants present without needing to send samples to a lab.  
  • Answers where you need them:
  • HPIMS is ideal for on-site use or in a mobile lab. A user-created library feature allows for automated screening of common contaminants. Whether it be illegal dyes or a known carcinogenic by-product of production, HPIMS can reliably detect compounds that are dangerous for public health.
  • GMP compliant 
  • No compromise between performance and speed


Watch this video:

Sample Preparation Video

Quick Actionable Answers with Vision Software

Excellims’ VisIon software creates a library that will alert the presence of certain compounds. Common contaminants such as plasticizers or illegal dyes can be entered into a library and automatically detected in a series of samples.

VisIon Analysis’s quantification feature determines if unsafe levels of specific compounds are present in a sample. A quantification curve is built from a series of standards and associated with a compound in the library, and a safe threshold is set at which a sample passes inspection. When an unknown sample is run, the software searches the spectrum for a peak that has a drift time matching one in the library, and determines its concentration based on the associated curve. In this way, food and drug samples can be quickly screened for safety.

Integrated HPIMS-MS

Portable GMP Analysis

Learn More
HPIMS Module for Mass Spectrometry

Fieldable Detection

Learn More
HPIMS-based chemical detection

Lab-Based Detection

Learn More


Excellims 60+ patents image

Excellims 60+ patents

Learn More
Excellims scientists the experts in IMS technology image

Excellims scientists the experts in IMS technology

Learn More
Trusted Strategic Partner to Industry-Leaders image

Trusted Strategic Partner to Industry-Leaders

Learn More