Rapid Profiling and Authentication of Vanilla Extracts Using Gas Chromatography-Vacuum Ultraviolet Spectroscopy


Vanilla extracts are widely used as flavoring ingredients in foods, beverages, perfumes, and pharmaceuticals. Due to the high cost of producing high-quality natural extracts, artificial flavorings, such as ethyl vanillin and coumarin, are often used. For food safety and to ensure high-quality products, it is important to differentiate between natural and artificial extracts. In this work, gas chromatography-vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC-VUV) was used for the determination of natural and artificial flavoring compounds in vanilla extract samples. Since the GC-VUV software is able to deconvolve co-eluting peaks based on their unique VUV/UV absorption spectra (125–240 nm), a compromise between resolution and speed of analysis (6- and 14-min runs on different polarity columns) could be made. LODs between 0.42 and 2.0 μg mL−1 were obtained for the tested flavoring compounds. Vanillin was present in extracts at the highest concentrations, from 108 to 5817 μg mL−1.

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Correspondence to Kevin A. Schug.

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Support for this work was provided by VUV Analytics, Inc.

Conflict of Interest

Kevin A. Schug is a member of the scientific advisory board for VUV Analytics, Inc. Jonathan Smuts is an employee of VUV Analytics, Inc. Ines C. Santos declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Santos, I.C., Smuts, J. & Schug, K.A. Rapid Profiling and Authentication of Vanilla Extracts Using Gas Chromatography-Vacuum Ultraviolet Spectroscopy. Food Anal. Methods 10, 4068–4078 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12161-017-0976-1

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  • Natural product extracts
  • Food adulteration
  • Fingerprint
  • Deconvolution
  • Coumarin
  • Fast gas chromatography