Quantification of trace volatile sulfur compounds in milk by solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography-pulsed flame photometric detection

J Dairy Sci. 2006 Aug;89(8):2919-27. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(06)72564-4.


Volatile sulfur compounds have been reported to be responsible for the sulfurous off-flavors generated during the thermal processing of milk; however, their analysis has been a challenge due to their high reactivity, high volatility, and low sensory threshold. In this study, reactive thiols were stabilized and the volatile sulfur compounds in milk were extracted by headspace solid-phase microextraction, and analyzed by gas chromatography and pulsed-flame photometric detection. Calibration curves for 7 sulfur-containing compounds were constructed in milk by the standard addition technique. Raw, pasteurized, and UHT milk samples with various fat contents were analyzed. Compared with raw and pasteurized samples, UHT milk contained substantially higher concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, methanethiol, carbon disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, and di-methyl sulfoxide. The high odor activity values calculated for methanethiol and dimethyl trisulfide suggested that these 2 compounds, in addition to di-methyl sulfide reported in a previous study, could be the most important contributors to the sulfurous note in UHT milk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Disulfide / analysis
  • Chromatography, Gas / methods*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / analysis
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / analysis
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Odorants / analysis
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / analysis
  • Sulfides / analysis
  • Sulfur Compounds / analysis*
  • Sulfur Compounds / chemistry
  • Volatilization


  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfur Compounds
  • methylmercaptan
  • dimethyl trisulfide
  • Carbon Disulfide
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide
  • Hydrogen Sulfide