Screening and mass spectral confirmation of β-lactam antibiotic residues in milk using LC-MS/MS

D. M. Holstege, Birgit Puschner, G. Whitehead, F. D. Galey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Milk is typically screened for β-lactam antibiotics by nonspecific methods. Although these methods are rapid and sensitive, they are not quantitative and can yield false positive findings. A sensitive and specific method for the quantitation and mass spectral confirmation of five β-lactam and two cephalosporin antibiotics commonly or potentially used in the dairy industry is described using high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. The antibiotics studied were ampicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin G, penicillin V, cloxacillin, cephapirin, and ceftiofur. The antibiotics were extracted from milk with acetonitrile, followed by reversed-phase column cleanup. The extract was analyzed by liquid chromatography coupled with a mass spectrometer, using a water/methanol gradient containing 1% acetic acid on a C-18 reversed-phase column. Determination was by positive ion electrospray ionization and ion trap tandem mass spectrometry. Quantitation was based on the most abundant product ions from fragmentation of the protonated ion for amoxicillin, cephapirin, ampicillin, and ceftiofur and on the fragmentation of the sodium adduct for penicillin G, penicillin V, and cloxacillin. The method was validated at the U.S. FDA tolerance or safe level and at 5 or 2.5 ng/mL for these compounds in bovine milk. Theoretical method detection limits in milk based on a 10:1 signal to noise ratio were 0.2 ng/mL (ampicillin), 0.4 ng/mL (ceftiofur), 0.8 ng/mL (cephapirin), 1 ng/mL (amoxicillin and penicillin G), and 2 ng/mL (cloxacillin and penicillin V) using a nominal sample size of 5 mL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-411
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 16 2002


  • β-lactam antibiotic
  • HPLC
  • LC-MS
  • Mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)


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