Food Metabolomics in Practice
Dr Sastia Prama Putri of Osaka University, Japan, spoke to LCGC about advances in metabolomics, the need for authentication of high value food products, and the important role of gas chromatography–mass spectrometry in food analysis.
Q: How did you become involved in metabolomics?
Q: What is the role of your laboratory in food metabolomics?
Recently, our laboratory also conducted soy sauce research in collaboration with Kikkoman company, cheese research in collaboration with Morinaga food company, and sake research in collaboration with Gekkekan (a renowned Japanese sake company), as well as specialty coffee research in collaboration with the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research company. Through this strong partnership with food companies and food research institutes, we have demonstrated the use of metabolomics technology for assisting in product development, authentication purposes, prediction of food sensory attributes, and the identification of metabolites responsible for flavour, aroma, and other characteristics of food.
Professor Eiichiro Fukusaki is responsible for driving all of the research activities in the laboratory. He is a Full Professor at the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University. He has published more than 200 journal articles, book chapters, and reviews, and hold 17 domestic patents and eight international patents. His research collaborators include over 30 academic institutions and major companies from various fields, including electrical, pharmaceutical, and medical as well as the food industry. He received the Japan ‘Saito’ Award from the Society of Biotechnology Japan in 2004.
Q: What role does metabolomics have in food and beverage analysis and what are the practical applications?
Practical applications include prediction of quality ranking of various food products and authentication of food products, which can include products with a high economic value, such as high-quality olive oil or rare products such as Kopi Luwak. Discriminative metabolomics has been widely applied to assess food quality, food safety, and determine the origin and varietal differences of foodstuffs. In addition, metabolomics is also useful for the discrimination of a variety of important GM crops and for nutrition research (nutrimetabolomics).
Q: How important is metabolomics in food analysis? In your opinion, is the need for authentication of certain food products growing?
The need for authentication of certain food products is growing, in particular among products with a high economic value that are prone to adulteration. Previous studies have demonstrated that metabolomics is a very useful tool for the characterization and authentication of foodstuffs because it can explore, classify, and predict geographical origin, types, varieties, and adulterations. Among the tools commonly used, partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) (a discrimination method) has become the most popular classification method as a result of its potential and versatility.
Q: Why is gas chromatography (GC) your analytical method of choice? In your opinion, what are the reasons for the recent popularity of GC–MS analysis in food chemistry?
Q: Where will your research into food analysis take you in the future?
Sastia Prama Putri is a postdoctoral researcher at the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Japan. She received her PhD at the age of 27 from the International Center for Biotechnology, Osaka University, in which she worked on the discovery of novel bioactive compounds from natural products and gained in-depth techniques in analytical and organic chemistry as well as biochemistry. She is currently working on the “JST-NSF: Metabolomics for low carbon society” project, a highly prestigious collaborative research project between Japan and USA, focusing on the application of metabolomics technology for optimization of various higher alcohols for use as biofuels. Since she joined the metabolomics laboratory in 2011, she has been actively promoting metabolomics to scientific communities in her home country, Indonesia.
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