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Successful sugar identification with ATR-FTIR


*Corresponding author
McGill IR Group, Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Sugars are sweet-tasting carbohydrates that are abundant in food. Due to similarities in physical characteristics, authentication of a sugar’s identity prior to its addition to a formulation can be challenging. The application of spectroscopic analytical methods to the study and analysis of foods has largely been due to the development of bench-top FTIR spectrometers, the availability of convenient Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) sample-handling accessories, and advances in multi-component analysis techniques and chemometrics. In addition, spectroscopic techniques facilitate simple, rapid analysis of a range of sample matrices and are valuable as part of quality control/quality assurance (QA/QC) strategies. This study demonstrates the successful qualitative analysis of sugar samples using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy.


Foods are complex systems comprised predominantly of water, fat, proteins, and carbohydrates together with numerous minor components. The functional properties of these components, which are governed by their molecular structure and intra- and intermolecular interactions within the food system, and the abundance of these components define the characteristics of food products (1). Sugar refers to a number of sweet-tasting carbohydrate groups, including monosaccharides, disaccharides (simple sugars) and oligosaccharides (complex sugars). Sugars from all of these groups are commonly consumed as food (see Table 1). As the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and obesity continues to increase (2), the use of artificial sweeteners including saccharin, aspartame, cyclamate and acesulfame K as low-calorie sweeteners has increased worldwide. Following concerns surrounding the safety of synthetic sweeteners (3–5), the discovery of sweet-tasting proteins such as thaumatin, monellin, mabinlin and pentadin in the pulp of various rain forest fruits provides an alternative approach to enhancing and modifying the taste of foods (6, 7) .
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