Natural existence of 2-alkylcyclobutanones

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Dec 24;56(24):11817-23. doi: 10.1021/jf802391z.


Increased outbreaks of food-borne illnesses, including deaths in recent years, attributed in large part to consumption of food contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7, have become a worldwide concern. Food-borne illnesses constitute an unacceptable health risk demanding stringent food safety controls. Despite food irradiation being a known effective method to eliminate pathogens that are difficult to eradicate by conventional methods, consumers and industry at large have been reluctant to adopt it. This is mainly attributed to some apprehensions regarding the safety of irradiated food. One such apprehension relates to 2-alkylcylcyclobutanones, unique radiolytic products thought to be formed in minute quantities in food during radiation processing. We demonstrate here for the first time the natural occurrence of 2-dodecylcyclobutanone and 2-tetradecylcyclobutanone in commercial nonirradiated as well as fresh cashew nut samples and 2-decylcyclobutanone as well as 2-dodecylcyclobutanone in nonirradiated nutmeg samples. The presence of 2-tetradecenylcyclobutanone was also observed in both commercial and irradiated cashew nuts. The present study will provide greater impetus for wider adoption of radiation technology for elimination of food-borne pathogenic bacteria without apprehensions about the technology that can help ensure food safety.

MeSH terms

  • Anacardium / chemistry*
  • Anacardium / radiation effects
  • Consumer Product Safety / standards*
  • Cyclobutanes / chemistry*
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Irradiation*
  • Myristica / chemistry*
  • Myristica / radiation effects


  • Cyclobutanes