Determination Of Flavor Compounds

The isolation, separation, and identification of volatile flavor compounds is important to determine the chemical mechanisms of flavor compound formation from fats and oils during storage, to identify chemical compounds that are responsible for specific desirable and undesirable flavors, and to develop optimum processing and storage methods that can minimize the undesirable oxidation of fats and oils. Analysis of the flavor compounds present in fats and oils is difficult because of their volatility, presence in low concentrations, and likelihood of undergoing chemical alteration during isolation. Food flavors are extremely complex mixtures of volatile compounds that act individ ually or in combination to produce unique tastes and aromas. Any modification of the chemical composition of these compounds could drastically change the flavor characteristics of food. Solid phase microextraction (SPME) is a relatively new technology that holds great promise for aiding in the evaluation of flavors by gas chromatography (30). SPME is rapidly gaining popularity as the technique of choice in the isolation and identification of volatile compounds because of its ability to integrate sampling, extraction, concentration, and sample introduction in a single step. Both the cost and time involved with sample analysis is reduced, while at the same time efficiency and selectivity are increased (31).

Threshold values are significantly different among flavor compounds, thus the presence of a small quantity of a compound with a low threshold value could have a more significant influence on the overall flavor than the presence of a large quantity of a particular compound with a high threshold value (Table 2). Hydrocarbons, for example, have a threshold value of 90 to 2,150 ppm; alkanals, 0.04 to 1.0 ppm; and vinyl ketones, 0.00002 to 0.007 ppm (2). This wide range of threshold values for flavor compounds illustrates how one specific flavor compound could have a significant influence on the overall flavor regardless of the concentration. Several volatile compounds have been proven to be responsible for specific described flavors in oxidized fats, as shown in Table 3 (13).

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