Emma Brady

13th June 2016

Putting the 'cheesy' back in cheese

Food quality has always been a hot topic of conversation no matter where you go in the world. We like to trust that what we consume is safe and exactly what it says on the tin, however, sometimes this is simply not the case and it is for this reason that there is a large emphasis placed on food quality testing.

Paramount to this industry is the GC-MS for discovering if any contaminants are present in any foodstuffs. Spectroscopy Now reported one of the latest food scandals, where Parmigiano Reggiano, parmesan cheese, contained cellulose as a filler or used cheaper less expensive cheeses in its parmesan products. In one particular case a product labelled as 100% parmesan had no parmesan present at all. 

This presented a challenge for the producers of Parmesan cheese, which is a product of unique origin and can only be produced in a few provinces of Italy. In order to protect parmesan from counterfeit products the EU produced strict guidelines which stated that ‘to be labelled parmesan cheese a product must not contain milk from cows which are fed with silage’.

Using GC-MS analysis, scientists at Università degli Studi di Parma in Italy could establish whether or not the cheese had been made using such milk by testing samples for cyclopropane fatty acids. These fatty acids are only present in milk from cows who are fed silage but not in cows who are fed with other cow feeds. The simplicity of this method and its fast results meant it could be used by industry to successfully find counterfeit parmesan. Furthermore, if the analysis was carried out using hydrogen carrier gas rather than helium analysis run times could be as much as halved, meaning that the cheese the consumers would purchases would be exactly what it is meant to be. 

We couldn’t let this blog post go without adding it a slightly ‘cheesy’ joke, as if you have been keeping up to date with the PEAK blog, you will clearly see that we love a bit of fun in our posts. 

cheese joke

The Precision Hydrogen Trace from PEAK Scientific delivers high purity hydrogen carrier gas for GC and provides a more convenient and efficient solution than bottled or cylinder helium. The Precision Hydrogen Trace is one of a series of generators for GC including further nitrogen and zero air models which can be stacked into a single unit which is tailored for your lab’s analysis whilst saving precious lab space.

To find out more about switching carrier gas from helium to hydrogen  - Click Here.

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