MALDI-TOF MS – application in food microbiology


Microbiological purity control of food products is of great importance in the food industry. Contaminated food is often characterized by a deteriorated taste, smell, and appearance, and when consumed, it can pose a threat to human health and life. Also, contamination incurs huge financial losses to the food industry. Different methods are used for identification of the microorganisms isolated from food, which are based on phenotypic, immunologic, genetic, and spectroscopic techniques. Unfortunately, these methods have the following disadvantages: laborious, time-consuming, requiring a well-trained spectrometer operator with specialist knowledge, or very accurate, but complicated, and extremely expensive. In recent years, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry
(MALDI-TOF MS) has been gaining increasing importance in the field of food microbiology. Unlike other techniques used for microorganisms identification,
MALDI-TOF MS is more rapid, accurate and cost-efficient, and easy to perform. Thus, this method can be applied in the food industry to quickly and accurately identify microorganisms, which is crucial for controlling the quality of food products. The present review aims to discuss the selected applications of MALDI-TOF MS in food microbiology. It mainly focuses on the characteristics of this method and its potential use in the identification and typing of microorganisms including filamentous fungi, yeasts, and bacteria in fermented beverages (beer and wine), honey, dairy products like yogurt and pasteurized milk, pork, and seafood.