Dry-cured Iberian ham owes its special flavour because it is produced from pigs which feed on acorns. Spanish researchers have investigated the non-destructive authentication of Iberian ham by analysing the headspace from hams produced from different feeding regimes, and analysing the volatiles using gas chromatography coupled to either a mass spectrometer (GC-MS) or an ion mobility spectrometer (GC-IMS, which separates molecules based on their mass, shape and charge). Both instruments were able to differentiate different pig feeding regimes in hams. GC-IMS was more sensitive detecting more volatiles, but GC-MS gave better in providing quantitative results for the amount of volatiles. Using principal component analyis (PCA), the best authenticity markers for hams produced from different feeding regimes were ethanol, 2-propanol and 3-methylbutanol, 3-methylbutanal and heptane.
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