Direct analysis real-time–high-resolution mass spectrometry for Triticum species authentication
Due to favourable climate condition, Italy is a prominent producer of different wheat varieties. Several wheat baked goods are produced, but the most typical Italian foods, like pasta, pizza and bread, are made of durum and common wheat flour. Because of the great importance of wheat in the Italian food market, authenticity represents an essential quality parameter not only for the producers and regulatory bodies but also for consumers. The aim of our study was to test the effectiveness of an unconventional non-targeted method for the discrimination of Triticum species using direct analysis real time–high-resolution mass spectrometry (DART–HRMS). For this purpose, 60 wheat samples including durum, common and hulled wheat varieties were collected over two consecutive harvest years. Chemometric evaluation revealed an optimal sample clustering according to the wheat species and the presence of 18 significant markers able to discriminate the groups. The discrimination power obtained is promising since the use of DART–HRMS can significantly reduce the analysis time compared to chromatographic techniques. A plausible future commercial and industrial scenario could see the application of this analytical approach especially to evaluate the risk of substitution of higher value wheat species with lower value flours.