Food Analysis

Enzymes are ideal for quantitative analysis of foods because of their specificity and sensitivity. The advantages of using immobilized enzymes for analysis include: reuse of the catalyst, stability, and predictable decay rates. There are two major approaches. The enzyme can be used in a reactor that produces a product that can be readily detected, for example, colorimetrically. Alternatively, the enzyme can be immobilized onto a sensing device capable of giving a continuous output, such as an electrode. The resulting enzyme electrode can then be inserted into foods to measure substrate depletion or product accumulation or some associated change such as pH. Enzyme electrodes have been developed that are capable of detecting a wide range of food components, including sugars, alcohols, amino acids, organic acids, and even cholesterol. They are particularly useful in automatic closed-system flow analysis, for example, as in-line monitors.

Where the enthalpy change of the reaction is sufficient, substrates can be assayed calorimetrically with enzyme thermistors. The heat of the reaction in a small column of immobilized enzyme is measured as a temperature change by a thermistor in the column eluent and indicates the amount of substrate converted. Enzyme thermistors can be used for continuous monitoring and control of bioconversions, for example, to sense changes in glucose concentration and control the flow of whey pumped to an immobilized lactase reactor (6).

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