BACKGROUND: As radiation-induced alterations of the lipid fraction of foods are related to their initial fat content, concentrations of fat degradation products used as irradiation markers are expected to be lower when irradiating low-fat-containing foods. Thus the sensitivity required when applying analytical methods for identifying irradiation markers in foods eventually depends on their respective amounts of fat. The aim of this study was to perform the qualitative analysis of characteristic hydrocarbons resulting from irradiation of samples with a fat content as low as 25 g kg−1.
RESULTS: A rapid extraction using a small amount of ethyl acetate was the unique sample pretreatment required to accomplish the analysis of radiolytic markers by using on-line coupling of reverse phase liquid chromatography and gas chromatography with mass spectrometry detection (RPLC/GC/MS). Efficient elimination of the large volumes (up to 2170 µL) directly transferred from LC to GC was achieved by optimising the operation mode of the through-oven transfer adsorption/desorption system used as interface.
CONCLUSION: The reported procedure allowed confirmation, in less than 65 min, of the occurrence of up to five irradiation markers, namely n-pentadecane, 1-hexadecene, 1,7-hexadecadiene, n-heptadecane and 8-heptadecene, in cooked ham irradiated at doses as low as 2 kGy. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry