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A comparative study of colour characteristics of thermally/non-thermally treated mealworm larvae (Tenebrio molitor) by means of UV/Vis spectroscopy and multivariate analysis

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The colour of processed mealworms is an important attribute that affects their utilization in food industry. Totally 15 colour and related spectral variables of powders prepared from differently processed (oven drying, freeze-drying, microwave drying, blanching, and their combinations) mealworms larvae (Tenebrio molitor) were evaluated by UV/Vis spectroscopy and multivariate analysis. The results obtained confirmed deterioration of mealworms colour after processing. In general, processing led to a decrease of lightness (L*), hue angle (), whiteness-blue-reflectance, whiteness index (WI) and tinting index coinciding with an increase in the yellowness index (YI), redness (a*), browning index (BI) and total colour difference (ΔE) compared to untreated larvae. Oven drying at higher temperature caused the pronounced darkening described by the highest BI and ΔE values (ΔE = 28.54 ± 0.37, BI = 53.78 ± 0.31). On the other hand, freeze-drying was the most suitable colour protection method. Based on lower BI and ΔE values, the combination of 3 min blanching with microwave and oven drying can be recommended as a proper alternative to freeze-drying. Most of the colour descriptors of processed larvae differed significantly from each other (p < 0.05). Absolute discrimination of processed mealworms larvae was achieved through principal component analysis and discriminant analysis. Values of L*, yellowness (b*), chroma, BI, ΔE and whiteness-blue-reflectance were identified as the most discriminating. Moreover, mutual correlations of monitored parameters, e.g. tinting and WI; a*, b* and C* values; or L* and ΔE were revealed by principal component factoring.

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This contribution is the result of the project APVV-17-0538, “Establishment of pilot facility and the development of mass rearing methods for edible insects production”, supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency.

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Correspondence to Blanka Tobolková.

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Tobolková, B., Takáč, P., Mangová, B. et al. A comparative study of colour characteristics of thermally/non-thermally treated mealworm larvae (Tenebrio molitor) by means of UV/Vis spectroscopy and multivariate analysis. Food Measure 15, 3791–3799 (2021).

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