Honey is a complex mixture of carbohydrates, in which the monosaccharides glucose and fructose are the most abundant compounds. Currently, more than 20 oligosaccharides have been identified in different varieties of honey normally at quite low concentration. A method was developed and validated using high-performance anion-exchange chromatography coupled to a mass spectrometry detector to investigate the composition of carbohydrates in honey samples. The method was tested for linearity range, trueness, instrumental and method detection and quantification limits, repeatability, and reproducibility. It was applied to determine seven monosaccharides, eight disaccharides, four trisaccharides, and one tetrasaccharide in various honey samples. The present work describes the composition of sugars in unifloral, multifloral, and some honeydew honey, which were produced and collected by beekeepers in the Trentino Alto-Adige region. Statistical techniques have been used to establish a relationship based on levels of carbohydrates among different Italian honey. The results emphasize that mono- and oligosaccharide profiles can be useful to discriminate different honeys according to their floral characteristics and inter-annual variability.
Keywords: High-performance anion-exchange chromatography–mass spectrometry (HPAEC-MS); Italian honey; Mono- and oligosaccharide profiles.