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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #444874

Research Project: Understand the Chemistry in Food System to Improve Toxin Detection and Food Safety

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-42000-021-030-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Jul 31, 2024

Food chemistry safety issues have become more prominent and critical. To date, several food chemical toxins have been reported, such as trans-fat, reactive aldehydes and 3-monochoro-1,2- propanediol fatty acid esters (3-MCPDE). 3-MCPDE is a group of processing-induced new food toxicants with kidney and testes toxicities and have been detected in commonly consumed food products including such as breads and infant formula. While early detection can help the removal of contained foods from the food supply chain, lack of understanding the mechanisms and factors associated with the formation of these chemical toxins significantly hinders the development and deployment of effective detection technologies. It is known that 1) 3-MCPDEs were formed through a free radical mediated mechanism under high temperature and low moisture conditions (oil refining conditions), and 2) glycidol esters (GEs) are co-products of 3-MCPDE. It remains unclear 1) whether and how 3-MCPDE may form during representative food processing conditions including baking and frying with different NaCl and transition medal levels; and 2) whether and how 3-MCPDE formation is related to and may be altered by other chemical reactions during processing, such as peroxidation and/or Maillard reactions. The specific objectives of this cooperative research agreement are: 1. Investigate potential molecular formation mechanisms and possible mitigation approaches for processing-induced formation of 3-MCPDE, GEs and aldehydes in food products; 2. Investigate the possible relationships between forming 3-MCPDE/GEs and the peroxidation reactions during food thermal processing (the 2 reactions share radical intermediates); 3. Develop new analytical methods for monitoring the chemical changes during food processing and processing-induced toxicants formation.

To accomplish the Objective 1, 3-MCPDE formation during food processing with and without radical scavengers will be examined under simulated food processing conditions such as bread baking (high temperature, low moisture, low NaCl, low fat), pickle fermentation (low temperature, high NaCl, high moisture, low fat), and frying (high temperature, medium NaCl, significant moisture, high fat) conditions. The food products will be collected at several processing degrees and examined for their concentrations and profiles of 3-MCPDE and glycidyl esters (GEs) using HPLC and LC-MS/MS methods. In addition, the selected food processing conditions and potential botanical extracts from edible materials and the by-products from agricultural and food processing will be examined for their potential in reducing 3-MCPDE/GEs formation under different food processing conditions for potential commercial utilization. To accomplish the Objective 2, 3-MCPDE formation and peroxidation reactions share the radical-mediated mechanism. The degrees of lipid peroxidation and 3-MCPDE formation will be examined in the simulated food systems such as high and low lipid food models. The reaction intermediates and final products will be examined using targeted and un-targeted HPLC-high resolution MS/MS (HRMS/MS) analyses. Further isolation and structure identification may be performed using column chromatography and preparative HPLC, and H1-NMR and C13-NMR, MS, FT-IR and Raman spectroscopic methods. The relationship between 3-MCPDE formation and peroxidation reactions will be analyzed.