The interest towards âsubstances of emerging concernsâ referred to objects intended to come into contact with food is recently growing. Such substances can be found in traces in simulants and in food products put in contact with plastic materials. In this context, it is important to set up analytical systems characterized by high sensitivity and to improve detection parameters to enhance signals. This work was aimed at optimizing a method based on UHPLC coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry to quantify the most common plastic additives, and able to detect the presence of polymers degradation products and coloring agents migrating from plastic re-usable containers. The optimization of mass spectrometric parameter settings for quantitative analysis of additives has been achieved by a chemometric approach, using a full factorial and d-optimal experimental designs, allowing to evaluate possible interactions between the investigated parameters. Results showed that the optimized method was characterized by improved features in terms of sensitivity respect to existing methods and was successfully applied to the analysis of a complex model food system such as chocolate put in contact with 14 polycarbonate tableware samples. A new procedure for sample pre-treatment was carried out and validated, showing high reliability. Results reported, for the first time, the presence of several molecules migrating to chocolate, in particular belonging to plastic additives, such Cyasorb UV5411, Tinuvin 234, Uvitex OB, and oligomers, whose amount was found to be correlated to age and degree of damage of the containers.
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