Parmesan test can detect cheesy imposters | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 94 Issue 23 | p. 10 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 6, 2016

Parmesan test can detect cheesy imposters

GC-MS method can determine the authenticity of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, Biological SCENE
Keywords: mass spectrometry, food, parmesan, cheese, GC-MS, counterfeit, Parmigiano-Reggiano, analytical chemistry
Perfect with pasta, but is it real Parmesan?
Credit: Shutterstock
Photo of parmesan cheese and grater.
Perfect with pasta, but is it real Parmesan?
Credit: Shutterstock

A generous dusting of grated Parmesan perfects a plate of spaghetti. But how can a culinary connoisseur be sure that it really is the king of cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano? Augusta Caligiani of the University of Parma and colleagues have developed a method that can help determine whether Parmesan has been bulked out with less noble cheeses—or whether it is an outright imposter (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b00913). The team had previously found that milk and cheese from cows fed a fermented fodder called silage contain traces of two unusual cyclopropane fatty acids (CPFAs), possibly made by lactic acid-producing bacteria in the silage. Now, the team has used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to look for these molecules in 304 cheese samples. Cheeses with European Union regulations that forbid silage feeding—including Parmigiano-Reggiano, Fontina, and Gruyère—had no CPFAs, confirming their authenticity. But Grana Padano, which does use milk from silage-fed cows, contained 300–830 mg of telltale CPFAs per kg of fat. Grated Parmesan is particularly vulnerable to being adulterated with other cheeses, and this method could help detect counterfeits.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment