Pomegranate juice is one of the most popular fruit juices, is well-known as a “superfood”, and plays an important role in healthy diets. Due to its constantly growing demand and high value, pomegranate juice is often targeted for adulteration, especially with cheaper substitutes such as apple and red grape juice. In the present study, the potential of applying a metabolomics approach to trace pomegranate juice adulteration was investigated. A novel methodology based on high-resolution mass spectrometric analysis was developed using targeted and untargeted screening strategies to discover potential biomarkers for the reliable detection of pomegranate juice adulteration from apple and red grape juice. Robust classification and prediction models were built with the use of unsupervised and supervised techniques (principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA)), which were able to distinguish pomegranate juice adulteration to a level down to 1%. Characteristic m/z
markers were detected, indicating pomegranate juice adulteration, and several marker compounds were identified. The results obtained from this study clearly demonstrate that Mass Spectrometry (MS)-based metabolomics have the potential to be used as a reliable screening tool for the rapid determination of food adulteration.
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