Tracing the Origins of Chocolate

Aug 22, 2017
Volume 13, Issue 12, pg 6

Photo Credit: Iprachenko/Shutterstock.comResearchers from the Université de Strasbourg, France, have developed a method to discover cocoa bean origin by analyzing chocolate polyphenols using high performance liquid chromatography–diode array detection–mass spectrometry (HPLC–DAD–MS) (1).

The ability to trace and authenticate foodstuffs has become increasingly important with several notable scandals bringing the topic into the public consciousness and ramping up its importance in industry. Given the interest in this topic, it was inevitable that a universally popular foodstuff such as cocoa—the main ingredient in chocolate—would require authentication. The price of cocoa is dependent on its origin, with cocoa from locations such as Madagascar, the Caribbean, and various countries from South America to Africa warranting varied market prices because of perceived differences in quality between the products.

Polyphenols are present in high quantities within cocoa and are closely linked to the characteristics and aroma of chocolate products. Polyphenol content is linked to the geographical origin and the cocoa bean variety as well as the processing steps that occur during chocolate manufacture. For these reasons researchers targeted polyphenols as the key to determining the origin and quality of chocolate products. Using a simple extraction technique and HPLC–DAD–MS, researchers developed a method to determine the origin and quality of the cocoa used within a finished chocolate product.

Despite polyphenol loss and degradation from processing, the significant amounts of polyphenol that remain in the final chocolate product enabled researchers to successfully develop a method to determine the origin and quality of cocoa used to produce the chocolate. The extraction method separated polyphenols from the other major components of chocolate, such as lipids, sugars, proteins, alkaloids, and other non-volatile substances. This method is significant because previous research focused on determining this information pre-processing and gives authorities a significant tool to detect food fraud in chocolate in the future. — L.B.


  1. A. Cambrai, E. Marchioni, D. Julien-David, and C. Marcic, Food Anal. Methods 10(6), 1991–2000 (2016).
lorem ipsum