What happens if a substance found is not in the existing database of around 2,000 substances?

17 Jul 14

Action will still be taken. The laboratory testing approach is based on a number of extraction and purification steps carried out on each sample to isolate prohibited substances according to their broad chemical characteristics. These extracts are then analysed by chromatographic instruments linked to mass spectrometric detector systems. The information generated is first compared to the current databases of around 2,000 different substances.

A major advantage of mass spectrometry is that it provides information about a substance based on its unique molecular structure. One of the latest versions of the technique utilises high resolution accurate mass measurement. This technique is powerful enough to indicate the presence of an unusual substance, even if it is not currently in the database of known substances. Such a finding is then investigated, the substance identified and action taken if necessary. These advances in technology mean that intelligence about new substances can be generated and evaluated much quicker than would previously have been possible.