Researchers from Towson University developed a method for determining where a particular chocolate was produced using its chemical “fingerprint,” with the hopes that it could one day be used to trace the chocolate back to the farm that grew the beans.
“The project originated out of an idea I had for a lab in one of the courses I teach,” said Shannon Stitzel, associate professor in the university’s department of chemistry and the project’s principal investigator, in a press release from the American Chemical Society. “The method we used to analyze chocolate bars from a grocery store worked well in the class, and the exercise piqued the students’ curiosity. So, I started reaching out for more interesting samples and tweaking the technique.”
Stitzel and her team analyzed organic compounds in samples of single-source cocoa liquor from around the world through liquid chromatography, which separated the cocoa liquor compounds, and mass spectrometry, which identified their chemical signatures. The method determined that different patterns of compounds like caffeine, theobromine, and catechins make up a signature fingerprint and that this fingerprint designates provenance.
Chocolate’s flavor and unique chemical composition are affected by any number of factors, including the genetic makeup of the tree that produced the cacao pods, the environment in which the tree was grown, variations in the processing steps used to make chocolate, and the naturally occurring yeast in the pods. Being able to determine the specific farm where the cacao beans were grown may help tell if the chocolate is fair trade or organic (as some labels claim) or if the chocolate has been adulterated. The researchers also hope that the method could be used to analyze the flavor profiles of chocolate.
The research was presented on the virtual science-sharing platform SciMeetings for the American Chemical Society’s Spring 2020 National Meeting & Expo, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dangers of a high-sodium diet have been well documented, but a new technology devised by scientists from Washington State University could help reduce sodium in processed foods while retaining taste and texture.
A study found that people who drank beverages that contained the low-calorie sweetener sucralose did experience metabolic problems and issues with neural responses but only when the beverage was formulated with both sucralose and a tasteless sugar (maltodextrin).
British scientists have gained new insights into the compound in plants that plays a vital role in the natural process through which plants grow.
In the food industry, botulinum toxin is associated with a severe form of food poisoning caused by improperly preserved food. Researchers have developed a technology that addresses the role of botulinum toxin in both food and cosmetic applications.
A look at innovations in metal packaging with a focus on cans and pouches.
Researchers at Alabama A&M, IIT, UGA, and other colleges and universities are modifying their research and teaching methods to conform to the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A round-up of equipment and instrumentation to address food safety and quality issues.
Public investment in support of basic and applied research is falling short. IFT has identified research gaps and called for a paradigm shift to drive innovation and value creation, feed the talent pipeline, and maintain global competitiveness.
Motif FoodWorks has announced partnerships the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to better understand and design the rheological properties of plant-based foods.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a new report warns that further outbreaks will emerge unless governments take active measures to prevent other zoonotic diseases from crossing into the human population and sets out recommendations to prevent future pandemics.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the publication of the manuscript “Allergen Removal and Transfer with Wiping and Cleaning Methods Used in Retail and Food Service Establishments.”
The FDA, along with the CDC and state and local partners, continue to investigate a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora infections potentially linked to Aldi, Hy-Vee, and Jewel-Osco grocery store brand “garden salads” containing iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots.
Cargill has announced a partnership with a local manufacturer in western India to launch its first chocolate manufacturing operation in Asia.