An investigation of radiolytic damage to biomolecules in foodstuffs

Jain, Reetu (1991) An investigation of radiolytic damage to biomolecules in foodstuffs. Doctoral thesis, Polytechnic of North London.


The development of an effective test system for detecting the irradiation status of foodstuffs is essential for the establishment of legislative control and consumer choice. For foodstuffs consisting mainly of water, treatment with ionising radiation initially generates highly reactive free radical species (hydroxyl radical (‘OH), hydrated electrons (e-aq) or hydrogen atoms (H)). These react extremely rapidly with a wide variety of “target" molecules in foodstuffs resulting in small but detectable chemical changes. Hence, assays for the assessment of ‘OH radical activity involve the identification and/or quantification of chemical species produced by the attack of ‘OH radical on a range of biomolecules occurring in foodstuffs.

This study Involves an investigation of radiolytically-induced chemical modifications arising from the Interaction of ‘OH radical with naturally occurring aromatic compounds in fruits and vegetables. High performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrochemical detection has been applied to the analysis.

In addition, the chemical nature of intermediates in, and end-products arising from the interaction of ‘0H radical with polyunsaturated fatty acids and carbohydrates Is reviewed by application of second-derivative (2D) electronic absorption spectrophotometry. The 2D spectrophotometric technique has not been previously applied to food studies and may serve as a potential “probe” for the measurement of radiolytic products generated as a consequence of irradiation treatment.

Additionally, high-field, high-resolution proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy has been employed to assess radiolytically-induced damage to biomolecules present In shellfish.

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