Rapid method for small grain and corn flour authentication using GC/EIMS and multivariate analysis
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The aim of this study was the application of the gas chromatography–mass spectrometry system (GC/EI–MS) system and multivariate data analysis to investigate the possibility of chemical differentiation between small grain flour (wheat, barley, oat, triticale, rye) and corn flour samples. All cereal flour samples were first defatted with hexane, after which the extraction with ethanol was performed. Extracted simple sugars (monosaccharides, disaccharides, trisaccharides, and sugar alcohols) were analyzed in the form of their corresponding trimethylsilyl oximes. Peaks of simple sugar derivatives were selected in total ion current (TIC) chromatograms by monitoring exclusively the following characteristic abundant ions: 204, 217, and 361 m/z. The total surface areas under the selected peaks were subjected to multivariate analysis. Applying principal coordinate analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis to obtained data, samples of corn flour could be very clearly distinguished from all samples of small grain flour, which presented a weaker separation among each other. This method circumvents common analytical procedures by excluding simple sugar identifications, quantitative analysis, the use of analytical standards, and calibration curves. Results are applicable in the quality assurance of mixed flour on the market, considering the increased popularity of their consumption in human nutrition.