New methodology set to simplify food quality control
Scientists at the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology, located within the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have developed a new methodology for the simultaneous analysis of odorants and tastants, which they believe could simplify and accelerate the quality control of food in the future.
Whether a food tastes good or not is essentially determined by the interaction of odours and tastants. A few trillionths of a gram per kilogram of food is enough to perceive some odorants; tastants, on the other hand, are only recognised at significantly higher concentrations.
In order to guarantee consistent sensory quality, it is important for manufacturers to know and control the characteristic odour and taste profiles of their products from the raw material to the finished product. This requires a fast but precise food analysis.
Tastants and aroma substances, however, differ greatly in their chemical and physical properties. As a result, food chemists currently use very different methods to determine the exact nature and quantity of odorants and tastants in a raw material or food. Aroma analyses especially are very time-consuming and therefore expensive, which limits the high-throughput analysis of numerous samples.
“We have now developed a new, innovative methodical approach that will enable us to examine food simultaneously for both odorants and tastants in a time-saving, high-throughput process,” said Thomas Hofmann, Director of the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology. “It is based on an ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS) method typically used for taste analysis.”
Volatile odorous substances can now be analysed by means of an upstream enrichment or substance conversion step using this method, which is otherwise not used for aromatic substances.
“We have tested our new methodological approach using apple juice as an example,” said Andreas Dunkel, Senior Scientist at the Leibniz-Institute of Food Systems Biology. “The results are very promising.”
According to the scientists, the new method makes it possible for the first time to analyse a large number of samples in a very short time with regard to their taste- and odour-giving ingredients. The researchers hope to be able to further develop the method so that it can be used by food manufacturers in the future to quickly and easily monitor the flavour of food along the entire value chain and, if necessary, optimise it.
Last but not least, the new method could also be used to stop food fraud. Dunkel said, “Using the identified flavour profiles, it would be possible to check the origin and quality label of the manufacturers and detect food fraud.”
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