BACKGROUND: A simple and solvent-free method was developed for the authentication of commercial spices. The similarities between gas chromatographic fingerprints were measured using similarity indices and multivariate data analyses, as morphological differentiation between dried powders and small spice particles was challenging. The volatile compounds present in 11 spices (i.e. allspice, anise, black pepper, caraway, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, star anise, and white pepper) were extracted by headspace solid-phase microextraction, and analysed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. RESULTS: The largest 10 peaks were selected from each total ion chromatogram, and a total of 65 volatiles were tentatively identified. The similarity indices (i.e. the congruence coefficients) were calculated using the data matrices of the identified compound relative peak areas to differentiate between two sets of fingerprints. Where pairs of similar fingerprints produced high congruence coefficients (>0.80), distinctive volatile markers were employed to distinguish between these samples. In addition, hierarchical cluster analysis and principal component analysis were performed to visualise the similarity among fingerprints, and the analysed spices were grouped and characterised according to their distinctive major components. CONCLUSION: This method is suitable for screening unknown spices, and can therefore be employed to evaluate the quality and authenticity of various spices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics