Maltol assessed: Toxic enhancer determined by FAAS

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  • Published: Jul 15, 2017
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: Atomic
thumbnail image: Maltol assessed: Toxic enhancer determined by FAAS

Ultrasound extraction

Simple ultrasound extraction followed by flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) of food samples can be used to quickly determine concentrations of the potentially toxic flavour enhancer maltol.

Simple ultrasound extraction followed by flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) of food samples can be used to quickly determine concentrations of the potentially toxic flavour enhancer maltol.

Maltol (3-hydroxy-2-methyl-4H-pyran-4-one) can be found in coffee, baked cereals, bread crusts, and caramelized foods, It can also be sourced through sucrose pyrolysis or thermal degradation of starch. It acts as a potent flavour enhancer for many foods and beverages. However, it shows a dose-dependent toxicity mediated through programmed cell death, apoptosis, which can be a problem if the maltol is present in high concentrations or a person is consuming a lot of products containing this substance. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have suggested that a maximum of 2 milligrams per kilogram body mass each day is an acceptable upper limit for human consumption of maltol. A higher dose is purportedly associated with headaches, nausea, vomiting, and neurotoxic effects.

Writing in the journal Food Chemistry, Nail Altunay, Ramazan Gürkan, Ulas, Orhan of the Cumhuriyet University, in Sivas, Turkey, describe their development of a simple ultrasound assisted-cloud point extraction (UA-CPE) method. They point out that maltol is too chemically reactive and shows matrix effects in samples, so cannot be determined readily in solution. "It is important to develop simple, low cost, sensitive and selective separation/pre-concentration methods for the accurate and reliable determination of maltol in food products," the team says.

Green testing

Previously, a wide range of techniques including flow injection analysis (FIA)-direct chemiluminescence, microwave assisted extraction and electrochemical detection (MAE-ED), indirect kinetic spectrophotometry based on chemometry, spectrometry multicomponent calibration approaches, spectrometry/ multivariate calibration and artificial neural networks, cyclic voltammetry (CV), differential pulse voltammetry (DPV), differential pulse voltammetry/differential linear sweep voltammetry, and ion chromatography (IC) have been used to determine maltol with varying degrees of success or otherwise. These and other techniques all have their pros and cons, as does any technique, of course. Moreover, while powerful, most of these analytical methods require time-consuming, costly, complex sample preparation steps and skilled operators. The team also suggests that an environment friendly technique would be apposite given the need to develop green chemistry techniques.

Food and drink

The team's new technique can be combined with FAAS for pre-concentration and indirect determination of maltol in food and beverage samples. The team explains that the method is based on the reduction of copper(II) to copper(I) by maltol at pH 6.5. The copper(I) thus produced selectively interacts with bathocuproine (BCP) to form a ternary complex in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS).

The team has shown that under optimized experimental conditions they can pre-concentrate a 35 millilitre sample solution and achieve a detection as low as 1.24 micrograms per litre of maltol in a linear range of 4 to 230 micrograms per litre. "The method was validated by intra- and inter-day precision studies ranging from 2.1 to 3.4%, and recoveries ranged from 93.3% to 104.4% using standard addition method," the team reports.

Related Links

Food Chem 2017, 235, 308-317: "Indirect determination of the flavor enhancer maltol in foods and beverages through flame atomic absorption spectrometry after ultrasound assisted-cloud point extraction"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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