FOOD ANALYTICAL METHODS, vol.7, no.7, pp.1407-1414, 2014 (SCI-Expanded)
Sucrose coating of breakfast cereals is used to enhance the flavor and attractiveness of the final product but there is a need for monitoring its levels to meet consumer health concerns associated with sugar consumption. Our objective was to evaluate the use of portable (mid-infrared, MIR) and handheld (near-infrared, NIR) systems for rapid, simple and reliable determination of sucrose content in breakfast cereal products. Cereal-based and sucrose-coated samples were provided by an Ohio snack food company. Samples were ground and spectra were collected using portable ATR-MIR (Cary 630) and handheld NIR (microPHAZIR) spectrometers. Reference sucrose levels were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Partial least squares regression (PLSR) was used to develop calibration regression models for prediction of sucrose levels in breakfast cereals based on spectral data. Sucrose levels in uncoated (n = 28) and coated (n = 62) cereal samples were on average of 1.2 ± 0.7 and 11.8 ± 3.5 g/100 g, respectively. Similar calibration (n = 85) model performances were obtained for determination of sucrose content by using the portable MIR and handheld NIR instruments with standard error of cross-validation (SECV) of 1.45 %. However, superior predictive ability was obtained with the portable MIR unit using a validation set (n = 20, SEP = 1.27 % and RPD = 4.41). Regression models using NIR spectrum of the cereal through a polyethylene bag resulted in reduction of the model goodness of fit and RPD values. Results support the application of handheld NIR and portable MIR spectrometers for close-to-real-time analysis of sucrose levels in breakfast cereals providing simple, rapid and reliable prediction for quality assurance.