Acrylamide formation during food processing captured by real-time SIFT-MS

18 months ago

Acrylamide is formed when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures and is a potential human carcinogen. As such, levels of acrylamide in food products are regulated. Many different types of food processing can produce acrylamide, including baking, roasting and frying. However, owing to its low molecular weight and high polarity, acrylamide is a challenging chemical to measure. Current approaches to monitoring acrylamide are generally based on GC/MS or LC/MS, which suffer from both the difficulty of separating acrylamide chromatographically and the lack of fragmentation during mass spectrometry. Further, since these techniques usually require the finished product to be collected and analyzed offsite, quality issues may not be identified rapidly during manufacturing, potentially leading to failed batches and even product recall. To avoid this, a solution is required that can measure acrylamide rapidly and ideally continuously, during food processing. This is where SIFT-MS comes in.

The ability to measure a suite of analytically challenging volatile compounds in real-time makes SIFT-MS the obvious choice for monitoring food production processes. Recently, analysts from Anatune Ltd in the UK used SIFT-MS to monitor acrylamide and other key volatiles in real-time, by connecting the SIFT-MS instrument to the exhaust flue of a food production process. In addition to acrylamide, four other key products of the Maillard reaction, which causes browning during food cooking, were measured. SIFT-MS monitored the exhaust continuously, throughout the 20-minute process.

Unlike monitoring techniques involving GC/MS or LC/MS, SIFT-MS was able to capture the dynamics of the Maillard or “browning” reaction in real time. During the process, the Maillard products, including acrylamide, clearly peaked in concentration as the food product was heated. Arguably, the most important advantage of SIFT-MS analysis was that these concentration peaks were captured in real-time, as each peak occurred over 2-5 minutes. With conventional offline techniques, high time resolution measurement of acrylamide is not possible, meaning spikes or increases in concentration can be missed entirely. Therefore, using on-line SIFT-MS analysis could help food manufacturers reduce and maintain lower acrylamide levels in their products.

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Lalit Rane Bsc IT
Marketing Manager