Metabolomics for evaluating flavor-associated metabolites in plant-based products
Reference: Metabolites (2020) 10: 197

Plant-based diets (PBDs) are associated with environmental benefits, human health promotion and animal welfare. There is a worldwide shift towards PBDs, evident from the increased global demand for fresh plant-based products (PBPs). Such shifts in dietary preferences accompanied by evolving food palates, create opportunities to leverage technological advancements and strict quality controls in developing PBPs that can drive consumer acceptance. Flavour, colour and texture are important sensory attributes of a food product and, have the largest influence on consumer appeal and acceptance. Among these, flavour is considered the most dominating quality attribute that significantly affects overall eating experience. Current state-of-art technologies rely on physicochemical estimations and sensory-based tests to assess flavour-related attributes in fresh PBPs. However, these methodologies often do not provide any indication about the metabolic features associated with unique flavour profiles and, consequently, can be used in a limited way to define the quality attributes of PBPs. To this end, a systematic understanding of metabolites that contribute to the flavour profiles of PBPs is warranted to complement the existing methodologies. This review will discuss the use of metabolomics for evaluating flavour-associated metabolites in fresh PBPs at post-harvest stage, alongside its applications for quality assessment and grading. We will summarise the current research in this area, discuss technical challenges and considerations pertaining to sampling and analytical techniques, as well as s provide future perspectives and directions for government organisations, industries and other stakeholders associated with the quality assessment of fresh PBPs.

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