Food contains various compounds, and there are many methods available to analyze each of these components. However, the large amounts of low-molecular-weight metabolites in food, such as amino acids, organic acids, vitamins, lipids, and toxins, make it difficult to analyze the spatial distribution of these molecules. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) imaging is a two-dimensional ionization technology that allows the detection of small metabolites in tissue sections without requiring purification, extraction, separation, or labeling. The application of MALDI-MS imaging in food analysis improves the visualization of these compounds to identify not only the nutritional content but also the geographical origin of the food. In this review, we provide an overview of some recent applications of MALDI-MS imaging, demonstrating the advantages and prospects of this technology compared to conventional approaches. Further development and enhancement of MALDI-MS imaging is expected to offer great benefits to consumers, researchers, and food producers with respect to breeding improvement, traceability, the development of value-added foods, and improved safety assessments.
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