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Journal of Automated Methods and Management in Chemistry
Volume 2011, Article ID 907317, 13 pages
Research Article

Quantitative Determination of Acetaldehyde in Foods Using Automated Digestion with Simulated Gastric Fluid Followed by Headspace Gas Chromatography

Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe, Weissenburger Straße 3, 76187 Karlsruhe, Germany

Received 8 January 2011; Accepted 31 March 2011

Academic Editor: Juan F. Garcia-Reyes

Copyright © 2011 Michael Uebelacker and Dirk W. Lachenmeier. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Acetaldehyde (ethanal) is a genotoxic carcinogen, which may occur naturally or as an added flavour in foods. We have developed an efficient method to analyze the compound in a wide variety of food matrices. The analysis is conducted using headspace (HS) gas chromatography (GC) with flame ionization detector. Using a robot autosampler, the samples are digested in full automation with simulated gastric fluid (1 h at 37°C) under shaking, which frees acetaldehyde loosely bound to matrix compounds. Afterwards, an aliquot of the HS is injected into the GC system. Standard addition was applied for quantification to compensate for matrix effects. The precision of the method was sufficient (<3% coefficient of variation). The limit of detection was 0.01 mg/L and the limit of quantification was 0.04 mg/L. 140 authentic samples were analyzed. The acetaldehyde content in apples was 0 . 9 7 ± 0 . 8 0  mg/kg, orange juice contained 3 . 8 6 ± 2 . 8 8  mg/kg. The highest concentration was determined in a yoghurt (17 mg/kg). A first-exposure estimation resulted in a daily acetaldehyde intake of less than 0.1 mg/kg bodyweight from food, which is considerably lower than the exposures from alcohol consumption or tobacco smoking.