Sniffing out real truffles

May 30, 2018

At a cost of thousands of dollars per pound, truffles are an expensive food. The fungi are prized for their distinctive aroma, and many foods claim truffles or their aromas as ingredients. But some of these foods may actually contain a much less pricey synthetic truffle compound. To help detect food fraud, researchers report in Analytical Chemistry that they have developed a technique that discriminates between these natural and synthetic compounds.

White truffles (Tuber magnatum Pico) are the most valuable species of the fungus, and researchers have previously identified bis(methylthio)methane as the key compound responsible for white truffle aroma. Synthetic bis(methylthio)methane, produced from petrochemicals, has been approved by the World Health Organization as a food additive, yet some foods made with this cheaper compound may still command a premium price if consumers believe that they contain authentic white truffles. Current methods cannot reliably discriminate between natural and synthetic bis(methylthio)methane. To help fight food fraud, Luigi Mondello and colleagues wanted to develop a new approach. 

The researchers exploited the differences in carbon isotope ratios between plant- and petroleum-derived versions of bis(methylthio)methane. After optimizing the technique of multidimensional gas chromatography coupled to combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry, they used the method to compare the carbon isotope ratios of bis(methylthio)methane from 24 genuine white truffles harvested at different locations in Italy, two commercial intact truffles and 14 commercial samples of foods flavored with truffles or truffle aroma. The approach could clearly discriminate foods that contained synthetic truffle aroma or a mixture of synthetic and natural aromas, and it could distinguish among products containing white truffle and those containing other species of the fungus. The researchers conclude that the improved technique can help validate foods that claim to contain truffles or natural truffle aroma.
-end-
The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Truffles Articles from Brightsurf:

Scientists identify new species of crystal-encrusted truffle, thanks to bonobos
Mushroom-munching bonobos in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have introduced scientists to a new species of truffle.

Researchers one step closer to bomb-sniffing cyborg locusts
Research from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St.

A 40-year journey leads to a new truffle species
Forty years after Dan Luoma found an unsual truffle collection, scientists confirmed it is a new species and named it after Luoma. 

Study: Organic molecules discovered by Curiosity Rover consistent with early life on Mars
Organic compounds called thiophenes are found on Earth in coal, crude oil and oddly enough, in white truffles, the mushroom beloved by epicureans and wild pigs.

Fungal diversity and its relationship to the future of forests
Stanford researchers predict that climate change will reduce the diversity of symbiotic fungi that help trees grow.

High society wants its fine foods to also be ethical
Truffles and caviar have traditionally been delicacies of the upper class, but a new study by UBC sociology professor Emily Huddart Kennedy and colleagues from the University of Toronto finds that free-range and fair-trade foods are becoming increasingly important among the elite.

Symbiosis a driver of truffle diversity
Truffles are the fruiting bodies of the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal symbionts residing on host plant roots.

Can tiny doses of magic mushrooms unlock creativity?
The use of minute doses of magic mushrooms and truffles containing psychedelic substances could induce a state of unconstrained thought that may produce more new, creative ideas.

Taste is key in promoting insect-based food
Eating insects, instead of meat, could have significant environmental and health benefits.

Two new truffle species discovered in Florida pecan orchards
Two new species of truffles were recently discovered on the roots of pecan trees in Florida orchards.

Read More: Truffles News and Truffles Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.