The QuEChERS technique was developed in 2003 by USDA scientists to simplify and accelerate the analysis of pesticides in various fruit and vegetable samples. The name QuEChERS is formed by an acronym of the properties that are observed with this technique: Quick, Easy, Cheap Effective, Rugged and Safe. The QuEChERS method has gained in popularity to become the most valuable alternative for the determination of traces of analytes in a high throughput environment. Presently, scientists have expanded the use of this method to the analysis of a vast array of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other compounds present in all food and beverage matrices.
The QuEChERS technique can be summarised as a three step methodology, starting with a liquid extraction, followed by a dispersive solid-phase extraction clean-up, and completed by LC or GC analysis. The first step is to carry out the extraction of compounds of interest from food or beverage matrices through a solvent (acetonitrile). The dispersive solid-phase extraction clean-up is designed to remove specific undesired compounds such as sugars, lipids, organic acids, proteins, pigments and excess water from the final solution. The analysis step consists of a simple injection into a LC-MS/MS or GC-MS instrument to determine the analyte recovery.