Analysis of food taints and off-flavours: a review
Taints and off-flavours in foods are a major concern to the food industry. Identification of the compound(s) causing a taint or off-flavour in food and accurate quantification are critical in assessing the potential safety risks of a product or ingredient. Even when the tainting compound(s) are not at a level that would cause a safety concern, taints and off-flavours can have a significant impact on the quality and consumers? acceptability of products. The analysis of taints and off-flavour compounds presents an analytical challenge especially in an industrial laboratory environment because of the low levels, often complex matrices and potential for contamination from external laboratory sources. This review gives an outline of the origins of chemical taints and off-flavours and looks at the methods used for analysis and the merits and drawbacks of each technique. Extraction methods and instrumentation are covered along with possible future developments. Generic screening methods currently lack the sensitivity required to detect the low levels required for some tainting compounds and a more targeted approach is often required. This review highlights the need for a rapid but sensitive universal method of extraction for the unequivocal determination of tainting compounds in food.