Breakfast cereals can develop off-flavors during storage. Unsaturated fatty acids and other compounds containing unsaturated linkages, such as vitamins, may undergo autooxidation, resulting in oxidative rancidity. Other reactions that can cause off-flavors are fat hydrolysis and reversion (8,20). Susceptibility to oxidation depends on the type of cereal grain used. Breakfast cereals made from oats are more susceptible to oxidative rancidity because oats contain higher levels of oil, about 7%. Other breakfast cereals, such as those made from rice, wheat, and corn, contain much less oil and thus are more stable in storage.
Antioxidants are used to retard autooxidation in breakfast cereals. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butyl-ated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are the most common phenolic antioxidants used. Federal regulations allow BHT and BHA to be added directly to breakfast cereals up to 50 ppm. The more common practice is to add antioxidants in the wax liner of the cereal box. These phenolic antioxidants, volatile at room temperature, diffuse from the liner to the product, thus providing protection from oxidation (21).
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