Assessing Vanilla Quality

October 20/Mainz, Germany/Journal of Technology & Science -- According to recent research from Mainz, Germany, "Vanilla still remains one of the most important and widely used flavors in the food industry and is also extensively employed by fragrance and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. Natural vanilla flavor, extracted from the pods of the tropic orchid vanilla, is considerably more expensive than synthetic vanillin."

"The disparity of prices between natural vanillin and that derived from other sources has given rise to many cases of fraudulent adulteration, and for more than 30 years, strenuous efforts have been made to authenticate sources of vanillin. Stable isotope analysis is one of the most powerful analytical tools to distinguish between natural vanillin and that originating from other sources. Recently, a rapid and precise method for analysis of both delta C-13 and delta H-2 values of plant methoxyl groups has been published. Here, we report an application of the method for the control of authenticity of vanillin. Carbon and hydrogen stable isotope values of the vanillin molecule and vanillin methoxyl groups of vanillin samples of different origins including authentic and synthetic samples were measured. The results clearly show that use of this approach provides a rapid and reliable authenticity assessment of vanillin," wrote M. Greule and colleagues.

The researchers concluded, "The technique used for these studies is robust and rapid, involves minimum sample preparation and requires only a small amount of vanillin sample, usually 1mg for stable carbon and 4mg for stable hydrogen analysis."

Greule and colleagues published their study in European Food Research and Technology ("Improved Rapid Authentication of Vanillin Using Delta C-13 and Delta H-2 Values." European Food Research and Technology, 2010;231(6):933-941).

For additional information, contact F. Keppler, Max Planck Institute Chemical, Joh Joachim Becher Weg 27, D-55128 Mainz, Germany.

From the November 1, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition