Description of Industry

Off-odors and flavors in the food industry are a major concern and directly affect profitability.  The chemical complexity of foods and numerous  means for preparation and processing allow for off-odor introduction at virtually every turn.  For example cooking (heat treatment), exposure to light, air, storage temperatures, environmental contaminants, packaging materials, and time may introduce off odors into foods.  VAC specializes in the detection and measurement of off-odors.  We have PhD level food scientists and chemists on staff each with more than 20 years experience in industry and academia.


Applicable Services

What we do

We are experts in odor analysis and trace level chemical detection and measurement.  Both odor analysis and chemical detection are utilized when we employ gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/ olfactometry.   We also employ expert experimental design, sample prep measures, and statistical analyses to ensure appropriate scientific rigor.

Odor Analysis GC-MS/O

Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/olfactometry provides the very best technique to quickly resolve off-odor issues.  This method requires a trained odor judge to sniff GC effluent and rate odor character and intensity.  This information is coupled by retention time automatically via software to GCMS chromatogram data to allow for rapid odor identification.   Our sensory and analytical team have more than 20 years experience with odor, analytical, and organic chemistry, and sensory analysis.

Quantitative Chemical Analysis

The goal of quantitative analysis is to accurately and precisely measure the amount of a chemical (the target chemical is also called analyte).  Quantitative analysis typically involves developing a calibration curve that contains a plot of standard chemical quantity vs. peak area.  Based on the unknown chemical peak area the concentration may be calculated.

Sensory Panel Creation

VAC offers unique capabilities in sensory and analytical. In support of our off-odor work we routinely convene sensory panels. The most frequently used include quantitative descriptive analysis (QDA) where a descriptive panel is trained for measuring product attributes. We also conduct threshold testing in various media. This is particularly useful when assessing how problematic specific odorants are in a given product formulation. If you need assistance creating a sensory panel and for more information click HERE.

Odor Investigation

We utilize the most advanced scientific techniques and instruments currently available to detect and measure volatile chemicals responsible for odor.  We utilize gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/ olfactometry  to quickly determine what retention index values from a chromatogram correspond with odor.  This capability dramatically improves our capability to identify trace level chemicals responsible for off-odors.

Odor Complaint Mitigation

Our team has the capability to provide a rapid and accurate response to your odor problem. We employ the latest in scientific instrumentation plus our team has more than 20 years experience with odor chemistry and analytical measurement.

Expert Witness Support

Odor detection and measurement, and sensory interpretation are our specialties. Our team of experts are highly qualified to participate as legal consultants and expert witnesses. VAC staff contains three Ph.D. scientists each with over 20 years experience.

Odor Claim Support

In order to support a claim, experimental results be accurate and reproducible.  Because we employ state of the art instrumental methods and accepted sensory analysis protocol, we can apply the necessary scientific rigor to test claims.  Additionally our scientist publish in peer reviewed journals and present at national and international scientific meetings.  We have the clout and know how to provide expert support.

Related News, Case Studies, and Blog Posts

Food and Beverage Odor Amelioration Efficacy

Measuring the effect of odor ameliorating “actives” in foods: Aqueous solutions that contained food related odors identified as commercially important were treated separately with ameliorating substances. How well the added substances worked to decrease odor in a model solution was determined by measuring headspace concentrations of odorants before and after treatment utilizing headspace stir bar sorptive extraction (HS SBSE). Volatiles were analyzed by thermal desorption, cryo-focusing, gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Odorous Compounds from Sweet Potatoes

A method was developed and tested to identify and measure volatile components generated from sweet-potato bread as it baked for the purpose of determining if hazardous chemicals identified by the National Space and Aeronautical Agency (NASA)’s maximum allowable concentrations list (SMACs) were present. A 14.5kL enclosed chamber made of polyethylene and polyvinylchloride was constructed to mimic conditions of a small enclosed food preparation space on board a NASA spacecraft. Volatiles generated from sweet-potato bread as it baked in a portable bread machine inside the enclosed chamber were extracted by thermal desorption tubes containing polydimethylsiloxane foam plugs and a portable pump. Tubes were thermally desorbed and components were analyzed by gas...

Volatiles from different varieties of watermelon

Volatile and semi-volatile compounds were extracted by stir bar sorptive extraction from watermelon puree and headspace obtained from 4 different varieties. Analysis was conducted by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. More than 36 compounds were detected. 10 were positively identified with authentic standard confirmation. The compound present in greatest abundance varied according to variety.

Identification of Off-Odors in Corrugated

Organoleptic assessment revealed overall aroma intensity of the suspect corrugated was similar in character, but stronger than normal. Upon headspace volatile extraction with a proprietary device equipped with thermal desorption tubes, and analysis by GC-MS/O, and GC-MS, it was determined there were 3 furan species extracted from suspect corrugated sample headspace only. Furans are indicative of heat treatment. Following a review of processing parameters, it was discovered the suspect corrugated lot was subjected to elevated temperatures during production. A sour milk odor associated with a suspect lot of corrugated was sent to the VAC lab for analysis. Upon headspace volatile extraction with a proprietary device equipped with thermal desorption tubes, and...
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