The botanical origin of honey is subjected to severe controls by Food Control Institutions, both for health protection and for frauds prevention. The complexity of honey makes it very difficult to verify the botanical origin. Among the available validated methods, sensory analysis and melissopalynology are the most widely employed. These methods require a long time and deep consolidated expertise. To shorten analysis time while simplifying the analytical procedure, head-space flash gas chromatography was applied in the present study. Chromatographic peak areas were processed by chemometrics (in particular principal components analysis and linear discriminant analysis). Three hundred and thirty-nine honey samples from twelve categories of unifloral honey were analyzed: acacia, citrus, chestnut, thistle, tree heath, eucalyptus, sunflower, rhododendron, lime, French honeysuckle, fir honeydew, and wood honeydew. Each sample was a priori classified by sensory analysis. The multivariate models were validated by cross validation and test-set validation, with predictive abilities always higher than 80%: good results were obtained both in calibration and in prediction mode, showing a good agreement between this new approach and the traditional one for the determination of the botanical origin of honey.
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Authors would like to thank Fernando Gottardi, supervisor of the Sensory Area of COOP Italia laboratory, for its essential technical support during the GC analyses execution. We also would like to thank the National Honey Observatory (Osservatorio Nazionale Miele) and the Italian Consortium for Organic Productions (CIBI), honey contest organizers of “Grandi mieli d’Italia—Tre gocce d’oro—Premio Giulio Piana” and the international organic honey competition “BIOLMIEL”, respectively, for providing us with a selection of high quality honey samples. We sincerely thank them. Investigation supported by University of Bologna (Funds for Selected Research Topics).
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Conflict of interest
Authors declare no conflict of interest associated with this publication.
Compliance with ethics requirements
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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