Essential oils (EO) are widely used as natural flavoring material in food industries. The quality assessment of EO is of primary importance for both consumers and industries, not only to assure production consistency but also to confirm the natural origin and exclude possible adulterations.
The common analytical approach for natural origin assessment is to determine the ratio between some chemical constituents characteristic of the product, or to determine specific biomarkers that prove either the adulteration or authenticity of the food.
In the case of EO, adulteration phenomenon can be investigated referring to the chiral nature of several markers. In fact, chiral compounds from natural origins are usually present as a predominant optical isomer and the enantiomeric ratio is often correlated to the geographical origin of the product. On the contrary, the presence of a racemic mixture typically indicates synthetic origin or adulteration process.
The use of chiral fast gas chromatography is very effective in the EO quality control, with the possibility to significantly shorten the analysis time for higher sample throughput. For this purpose, a new generation of chiral stationary phases as substituted cyclodextrins are of particular interest for routine analyses in fast enantioselective gas chromatography. Chiral short and narrowbore columns permits to significantly reduce the analysis time, providing the resolution required for enantiomers separation. Fully automated static headspace technique coupled to fast GC-TOFMS offers an easy and effective method for fast authenticity assessment of different type of food or beverages, with reduced sample handling and extended automation.


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