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Effect of cooking on the speciation of chromium in food


Chromium is a very controversial transition element in food chemistry due to the very different toxicities of its main species. While Cr(VI) is classified to be carcinogenic, Cr(III) is part of some nutritional supplements considered to be beneficial for the human glucose metabolism. While the often stated essentiality of Cr(III) lacks the identification of the active biological species, even the beneficial effects reported are not convincing for healthy people according to the European Food Safety Authority. The question of the Cr toxicity is even more complicated, since the species actually damaging the DNA is Cr(III), yet Cr(III) is not very mobile and can hardly reach the interior of cells.

The presence of Cr(VI) in foodstuffs also is a question often disputed. While the organic material in foodstuffs leads to a reducing environment in which Cr(VI) can hardly survive for extended periods of time, some researchers have reported the presence of Cr(VI) in some foodstuffs such as bread, milk, meat, cereals, tea, mushrooms and rice. Other researchers disputing such results have made inconsistent analytical procedures responsible for the detection of Cr(VI) in such materials. We here at EVISA have always argued, that only species-specific isotope dilution, avoiding transformation errors during analysis can be used to create convincing results. Now a group of researchers from France and Denmark have finally applied such technique for the chromium speciation analysis in some foodstuffs.

The new study:
This study aimed at the assessment of the impact of various culinary processes on the fate of chromium (Cr) species (Cr(III) and Cr(VI)) in infant formula milk, semi-skimmed milk and bovine meat samples. The cooking procedures were boiling at 70°C/100°C (milk samples) and frying without and with oil (95°C and 120°C) (bovine meat). The levels of Cr(III) and Cr(VI) in raw and cooked samples were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) using double spike species-specific-isotope dilution (SS-ID). This technique allows for the correction of species transformations during the analysis. ANOVA test used to compare the mean Cr species concentrations showed no significant differences between raw and cooked samples. The results obtained by the research group show that oxidation of Cr(III) to Cr(VI) does not occur during thermal cooking of milk and bovine meat samples. A further selection of 10 samples of each type were analysed in terms of total Cr as well as speciation (Cr(III) and Cr(VI)). Cr(VI) was not quantified in any of these samples, whereas Cr(III) levels ranged from 0.22 (infant formula milk) up to 80 μg kg−1 (chorizo sausage). Also the mass balance indicated that Cr is found exclusively as Cr(III) in these samples.

The original study:

Marina Saraiva, Rachida Chekri, Thierry Guérin, Jens J. Sloth, Petru Jitaru, Chromium speciation analysis in raw and cooked milk and meat samples by species-specific isotope dilution and HPLC-ICP-MS, Food Addit. Contam. Part A, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/19440049.2020.1859144

Thermo Scientific - iCAP-Q ICP-MS

Related studies (newest first)

M. Saraiva, R. Chekri, A. Leufroy, T. Guérin, J.J. Sloth, P. Jitaru, Development and validation of a single run method based on species-specific isotope dilution and HPLC-ICP-MS for simultaneous species interconversion correction and speciation analysis of Cr(III)/Cr(VI) in meat and dairy products. Talanta, 222 (2021) 121538. DOI: 10.1016/j.talanta.2020.121538.

R. Milačič, J. Ščančar, Cr speciation in foodstuffs, biological and environmental samples: methodological approaches and analytical challenges - A critical review. Trends Anal. Chem., 127 (2020) 115888. DOI: 10.1016/j.trac.2020.115888.

A. Shittu, R. Esfandi, A. Tsopmo, Chromium and arsenic speciation analysis in meats by HPLC-ICP-MS in the presence of hydrolyzed oat proteins with radical scavenging activities. Heliyon, 6 (2020) e03654. DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03654.

B.H. Chen, S.J. Jiang, A.C. Sahayam. Determination of Cr(VI) in rice using ion chromatography inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Food Chem., 324/15 (2020) 126698. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.126698.

J.B. Vincent, The Nutritional Biochemistry of Chromium(III). Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/C2017-0-02769-6

F. Hernandez, P. Jitaru, F. Cormanta, L. Noël, T. Guérin, Development and application of a method for Cr(III) determination in dairy products by HPLC–ICP-MS. Food Chem., 240 (2018) 183–188. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.07.110.

R. Milačič, J. Ščančar, Letter to the Editor - Comment on recent article speciation of Cr in bread and breakfast cereals, published in Food Chemistry, (2017) 129, 1839-1843. Food Chem. 254 (2018) 78–79. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.01.191.

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M.E. Soares, E. Vieira, M.L. Bastos, Chromium speciation analysis in bread samples. J. Agric. Food Chem. 58 (2010) 1366–1370. DOI:10.1021/jf903118v

A.A. Ambushe, R.I. McCrindle, C.M.E. McCrindle, Speciation of chromium in cow’s milk by solid-phase extraction/dynamic reaction cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (DRC-ICPMS). J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 24 (2009) 502–507. DOI: 10.1039/B819962K.

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last time modified: November 26, 2023

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