Rapid screening of coumarin in food


Successfully screened coumarin in vanilla extracts and foods with convenient techniques without sample extraction, filtration, dilution or separation.


Coumarin is a natural compound found in a variety of plants, including fragrant beans, foxgrass and certain varieties of cinnamon. Coumarin is often added to the fake vanilla extract to increase the vanilla odor. Because coumarin is toxic, it is a banned food additive in the United States, the European Union, etc., and the maximum coumarin content in food is 2 mg/kg (EC Directive 88/388/ECC). Recent reports show that cases of elevated levels of coumarin in Christmas biscuits, gingerbread, cookies and other foods have increased in the EU market. To comply with regulations, food companies must analyze vanilla extracts and foods to ensure the quality of the food and the accuracy of the label content. LC/MS/MS is the most commonly used technique for the analysis of coumarin in foods. Like other analytical techniques, it requires time-consuming and labor-intensive sample preparation steps: dilution, filtration, and extraction. Therefore, we urgently need a rapid screening tool for rapid identification of product quality.

The ASAP/TQD system detects coumarin at a level of 2 mg/kg in various food matrices in as little as 3 minutes.


The Waters ® Atmospheric Solids Analysis Probe in combination with the ACQUITY ® TQ Detector ( ASAP/TQD ) is the ideal screening tool for sample extraction, dilution and chromatographic separation, and the ASAP/ TQD solution quickly detects regulatory requirements in a variety of food matrices The levels of coumarin include vanilla extract, coffee, ice cream and cookies.

Atmospheric Pressure Solids Analysis Probe ( ASAP )

Load the glass rod on the ASAP probe directly onto the surface of the sample (ice cream and cookies). Vanilla extract and coffee samples can be loaded directly using a glass rod.

The ASAP probe was inserted into a sealed ion source, the desolvation gas temperature was rapidly heated to 200 °C, and the data was collected by multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode (see Table 1 for mass spectrometry parameters).

Parent ion

Child ion

Cone voltage (V )

Collision energy (eV )




twenty two

Table 1. MRM channels of coumarin

Figure 1 : Vanilla extract ( A ), coffee ( B ), cookies ( C ), and ice cream ( D ) with 2 mg/kg coumarin (black peak) control blank (red peak) MS/MS ion analysis ( m/z 147 → 103 )

Food samples containing 2 mg/kg of coumarin (black peak) required by the regulations were subjected to MS/MS analysis, and blank samples (red peaks) were compared. The results are shown in Figure 1.

to sum up

In the absence of sample extraction, dilution and chromatographic separation, the ASAP/TQD system detects coumarin at a level of 2 mg/kg in various food matrices in as little as 3 minutes. In the absence of sample preparation and solvent use, this rapid screening method saves analysis time and greatly increases laboratory productivity and environmental pollution, which is in line with the principles of green chemistry. The conclusion is that the ASAP/TQD system greatly reduces the operating costs of the laboratory.


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