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Applications of methods to authenticate speciality vinegars
Project Code: Q01075
Central Science Laboratory
A number of vinegar samples have been analysed by methods with the potential to
identify adulteration with cheaper types. Authentic vinegars were obtained from
producers in Europe. The vinegars comprised white wine, red wine, aged balsamic
modern balsamic, apple, malt and spirit.
The methods used were determination of volatiles profiles and marker compounds,
carbon isotope ratios, trace element profiling and for balsamic vinegars, isomerisation
of amino acids.
Statistical treatment of the results showed that spirit vinegar could be distinguished
fully from other types, particularly malt vinegars, by use of trace element analyses with
enhancement of the result by inclusion of deuterium:hydrogen ratio data obtained by
NMR. Measurement of acetic acid deuterium:hydrogen ratios by isotope ratio mass
spectrometry could readily identify corn-derived spirit vinegars.
Measurement of volatile components could confirm the aged status of some balsamic
vinegars but not identify ‘modern’ samples. Application of the measurement of chiral
isomerisation of amino acids in balsamic vinegars was limited by the small number of
samples. Total trace element levels were higher in balsamic vinegars as a consequence
of water evaporation during manufacture.
Blind testing on a small scale confirmed that trace element analysis had potential for
the differentiation of spirit and malt vinegars.
Application of trace element analysis to a small retail survey showed visible
differences between the element composition of spirit vinegars and those of malt and,
in several cases, other vinegars. The adulteration of malt vinegars with spirit vinegars
was not detected in any sample.
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