Combination of sugar analysis and stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry to detect the use of artificial sugars in royal jelly production
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The effects of feeding bees artificial sugars and/or proteins on the sugar compositions and 13C isotopic measurements of royal jellies (RJs) were evaluated. The sugars fed to the bees were two C4 sugars (cane sugar and maize hydrolysate), two C3 sugars (sugar beet, cereal starch hydrolysate), and honey. The proteins fed to them were pollen, soybean, and yeast powder proteins. To evaluate the influence of the sugar and/or protein feeding over time, samples were collected during six consecutive harvests. 13C isotopic ratio measurements of natural RJs gave values of around −25 ‰, which were also seen for RJs obtained when the bees were fed honey or C3 sugars. However, the RJs obtained when the bees were fed cane sugar or corn hydrolysate (regardless of whether they were also fed proteins) gave values of up to −17 ‰. Sugar content analysis revealed that the composition of maltose, maltotriose, sucrose, and erlose varied significantly over time in accordance with the composition of the syrup fed to the bees. When corn and cereal starch hydrolysates were fed to the bees, the maltose and maltotriose contents of the RJs increased up to 5.0 and 1.3 %, respectively, compared to the levels seen in authentic samples (i.e., samples obtained when the bees were fed natural food: honey and pollen) that were inferior to 0.2% and not detected, respectively. The sucrose and erlose contents of natural RJs were around 0.2 %, whereas those in RJs obtained when the bees were fed cane or beet sugar were as much as 4.0 and 1.3 %, respectively. The combination of sugar analysis and 13C isotopic ratio measurements represents a very efficient analytical methodology for detecting (from early harvests onward) the use of C4 and C3 artificial sugars in the production of RJ.
KeywordsRoyal jelly IRMS Sugar Bee feeding Gas chromatography
We would like to acknowledge the GPGR beekeepers who conducted the feeding experiments.
Thanks also to France Agrimer and the Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Pêche for their financial support.
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