Tryptophan sulfonate: A new chemical marker for accurate and efficient inspection of sulfur-treated food products

Kam-Chun Chan, Wei-Hao Zhang, Yui-Man Chan, Hiu-Lam Li, Jing Fang, Han-Yan Luo, Jun Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Sulfur treatment for the pesticidal and antibacterial processing of food products has been criticized since it impairs the quality of treated products. The inspection of sulfur-treated products is thus required to achieve the regulation of sulfur treatment. Sulfite assay is currently available for the inspection, but it bears the disadvantages of inaccurate results and complex experimental procedures. Here we report a new chemical marker, namely tryptophan sulfonate, that can be used for the accurate and efficient inspection of sulfur-treated foods. First, the marker was discovered in sulfur-fumigated ginger, yam, and ginseng by untargeted metabolomics. The marker identity was then elucidated using chromatographic separation, nuclear magnetic resonance analysis and chemical synthesis. Finally, to demonstrate its applicability in the inspection, a tryptophan sulfonate assay was developed to test 50 commercial food samples, and the results indicated that it performed better than the sulfite assay in terms of both accuracy and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137360
Number of pages11
JournalFood Chemistry
Volume434
Early online date9 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Food Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Tryptophan sulfonate
  • Sulfur treatment
  • Sulfite assay
  • SO2
  • Metabolomics

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