An unprecedented characterization of free fatty acids (FFA) in the lipid extracts of fresh or thermally treated mussels of sp. Mytilus galloprovincialis, including up to 128 saturated, mono- or poly-unsaturated and 63 oxidized (i.e., modified by hydroxylic, carbonylic and/or epoxylic groups) compounds, was achieved using reverse phase chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization-Fourier transform single and tandem mass spectrometry (RPC-ESI-FTMS,MS/MS). Subsequent Principal Components Analysis (PCA) evidenced several effects of thermal treatments on the mussel FFA profiles. In particular, death-inducing low temperature treatments (freezing at -16 °C or refrigeration at 4 °C for several days) induced a peculiar increase in the incidence of FFA, whereas the effect was absent in mussels undergoing death upon prolonged storage at room temperature (25 °C, 6 h) or fast cooking (100 °C, 5 min). Alive mussels, either fresh or resulting from short term (up to 48 h) refrigeration were actually indistinguishable by PCA, although subtle seasonal effects were observed.
Keywords: Fourier transform mass spectrometry; Free fatty acids; Mussels; Mytilus galloprovincialis; Seafood thermal processing.
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