Rapid non-invasive quality control of semi-finished products for the food industry by direct injection mass spectrometry headspace analysis: the case of milk powder, whey powder and anhydrous milk fat
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In this study, we demonstrated the suitability of direct injection mass spectrometry headspace analysis for rapid non-invasive quality control of semi-finished dairy ingredients, such as skim milk powder (SMP), whole milk powder (WMP), whey powder (WP) and anhydrous milk fat (AMF), which are widely used as ingredients in the food industry. In this work, for the first time, we applied proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) with a time-of-flight (ToF) analyzer for the rapid and non-invasive analysis of volatile compounds in different samples of SMP, WMP, WP and AMF. We selected different dairy ingredients in various concrete situations (e.g. same producer and different expiration times, different producers and same days of storage, different producers) based on their sensory evaluation. PTR-ToF-MS allowed the separation and characterization of different samples based on the volatile organic compound (VOC) profiles. Statistically significant differences in VOC content were generally coherent with differences in sensory evaluation, particularly for SMP, WMP and WP. The good separation of SMP samples from WMP samples suggested the possible application of PTR-ToF-MS to detect possible cases of adulteration of dairy ingredients for the food industry. Our findings demonstrate the efficient and rapid differentiation of dairy ingredients on the basis of the released VOCs via PTR-ToF-MS analysis and suggest this method as a versatile tool (1) for the facilitation/optimization of the selection of dairy ingredients in the food industry and (2) and for the prompt innovation in the production of dairy ingredients.