Cured Iberian ham is a worldwide known product due to its high quality. Nowadays, there is a lack of official analytical methods to differentiate geographical origin (Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)), the curing plant where hams are processed, as well as the commercial categories in each industry. In this work, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) extracted from 998 Iberian hams were analyzed by Gas Chromatography coupled to Ion Mobility Spectrometry (GC-IMS), using the subsequent information to design discriminant models. High classification percentages were obtained for the three objectives of the study: 98,5% for geographical origin, 93,5% and 100% for curing plant discrimination, and an average rate of 84,5% for commercial category discrimination in the seven curing plants subject to study. Differences obtained in discriminant models are probably due to the complexity of Iberian ham manufacturing process. In this sense, the results obtained in the present study suggest slight differences between geographical areas and industries evaluated, even covered by the same PDO. Also, those differences may be related to the existing variability in terms of breed purity and feeding regime of Iberian pigs, which are two of the main determining factors of ham aroma.
Keywords: Commercial category; Discrimination; Iberian ham; Origin; Volatilome.
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