Marzipan Santas, elves and stollen: Real deal or cheap fakes?

November 30, 2011

With the December holidays a peak season for indulging in marzipan, scientists are reporting development of a new test that can tell the difference between the real thing -- a pricey but luscious paste made from ground almonds and sugar -- and cheap fakes made from ground soy, peas and other ingredients. The report appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Ilka Haase and colleagues explain that marzipan is a popular treat in some countries, especially at Christmas and New Year's, when displays of marzipan sculpted into fruit, Santa and tree shapes pop up in stores. And cakes like marzipan stollen (a rich combo of raisins, nuts and cherries with a marzipan filling) are a holiday tradition. But the cost of almonds leads some unscrupulous manufacturers to use cheap substitutes like ground-up peach seeds, soybeans or peas. Current methods for detecting that trickery have drawbacks, allowing counterfeit marzipan to slip onto the market to unsuspecting consumers. To improve the detection of contaminants in marzipan, the researchers became food detectives and adapted a method called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) -- the same test famed for use in crime scene investigations.

They tested various marzipan concoctions with different amounts of apricot seeds, peach seeds, peas, beans, soy, lupine, chickpeas, cashews and pistachios. PCR enabled them to easily finger the doctored pastes. They could even detect small amounts -- as little as 0.1% -- of an almond substitute. The researchers say that the PCR method could serve as a perfect tool for the routine screening of marzipan pastes for small amounts of contaminants.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the German Ministry of Economics and Technology, the FEI and the Association of the German Confectionary Industry.

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. 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.

American Chemical Society

Related Contaminants Articles from Brightsurf:

Contaminants from Mount Polley tailings spill continue to affect Quesnel lake
Natural mixing of lake waters may resuspend contaminants deposited in a catastrophic mine spill six years ago, according to a new paper led by a University of Alberta scientist.

Mix of contaminants in Fukushima wastewater, risks of ocean dumping
Nearly 10 years after the Tohoku-oki earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power, radiation levels have fallen to safe levels in all but the waters closest to the shuttered power plant.

Environmental contaminants alter gut microbiome, health
The microbes that inhabit our bodies are influenced by what we eat, drink, breathe and absorb through our skin, and most of us are chronically exposed to natural and human-made environmental contaminants.

Co-occurring contaminants may increase NC groundwater risks
Eighty-four percent of the wells sampled in the Kings Mountain Belt and the Charlotte and Milton Belts of the Piedmont region of North Carolina contained concentrations of vanadium and hexavalent chromium that exceeded health recommendations from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Study estimates more than 100,000 cancer cases could stem from contaminants in tap water
A toxic cocktail of chemical pollutants in US drinking water could result in more than 100,000 cancer cases, according to a peer-reviewed study from Environmental Working Group -- the first study to conduct a cumulative assessment of cancer risks due to 22 carcinogenic contaminants found in drinking water nationwide.

Microbe chews through PFAS and other tough contaminants
In a series of lab tests, a relatively common soil bacterium has demonstrated its ability to break down the difficult-to-remove class of pollutants called PFAS, researchers at Princeton University said.

Urban stormwater could release contaminants to ground, surface waters
A good rainstorm can make a city feel clean and revitalized.

Bronx river turtles get a check-up
A team of scientists and veterinarians gave a health evaluation of turtles living in the Bronx River, one of the most urbanized rivers in the U.S. and the only remaining freshwater river that flows through New York City.

Microbial contaminants found in popular e-cigarettes
Popular electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) products sold in the US were contaminated with bacterial and fungal toxins, according to new research from Harvard T.H.

High negative pressure limits dispersion of airborne contaminants in hospitals and renovation sites
Maintaining a high negative pressure in airborne infection isolation rooms of hospitals (over -10 Pa) and in renovation sites (over -5 Pa) effectively limits the dispersion of airborne contaminants and dust, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows.

Read More: Contaminants News and Contaminants 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.