UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A Rapid Gas-Chromatography/Mass-Spectrometry Technique for Determining Odour Activity Values of Volatile Compounds in Plant Proteins: Soy, and Allergen-Free Pea and Brown Rice Protein Singh, Anika; Shi, Yuan; Magreault, Perrine; Kitts, David D.; Jarzębski, Maciej; Siejak, Przemysław; Pratap-Singh, Anubhav


Plant-based protein sources have a characteristic aroma that limits their usage in various meat-alternative formulations. Despite being the most popular plant-based protein, the allergenicity of soy protein severely restricts the potential adoption of soy protein as an animal substitute. Thereby, allergen-free plant-protein sources need to be characterized. Herein, we demonstrate a rapid solid-phase-microextraction gas-chromatography/mass-spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS) technique for comparing the volatile aroma profile concentration of two different allergen-free plant-protein sources (brown rice and pea) and comparing them with soy protein. The extraction procedure consisted of making a 1:7 w/v aqueous plant protein slurry, and then absorbing the volatile compounds on an SPME fibre under agitation for 10 min at 40 °C, which was subsequently injected onto a GC column coupled to an MS system. Observed volatile concentrations were used in conjunction with odour threshold values to generate a Total Volatile Aroma Score for each protein sample. A total of 76 volatile compounds were identified. Aldehydes and furans were determined to be the most dominant volatiles present in the plant proteins. Both brown rice protein and pea protein contained 64% aldehydes and 18% furans, with minor contents of alcohols, ketones and other compounds. On the other hand, soy protein consisted of fewer aldehydes (46%), but a more significant proportion of furans (42%). However, in terms of total concentration, brown rice protein contained the highest intensity and number of volatile compounds. Based on the calculated odour activity values of the detected compounds, our study concludes that pea proteins could be used as a suitable alternative to soy proteins in applications for allergen-free vegan protein products without interfering with the taste or flavour of the product.

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