Baked chocolate desserts may contain a high level of harmful substances

Written By Mark

A recent study found that some baked sweets that contain chocolate may contain a high and unsafe percentage of some substances that may be harmful to health.

The study was conducted by researchers led by Alexandre de Sart from the Louvain Institute for Biomolecular Science and Technology (LIBST), Belgium. It was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society.

These compounds are called alpha- and beta-unsaturated carbonyls. The researchers said that chocolate contains these compounds in concentrations low enough to be safe, but when they are included in sweets, they rise to dangerous levels.

When making chocolate, cocoa beans are roasted to help develop the chocolate flavors. During this process, new molecules such as alpha and beta unsaturated carbons are formed when they react with other components under high temperatures. This class of carbonyls is highly reactive and potentially genotoxic, or capable of causing DNA damage when consumed.

Although these carbonyls are found naturally in many foods, they are also used as flavoring additives, some of which have been banned in the European Union, including furan-2(5H)-one, which It has a buttery taste.

To better understand how these molecules form naturally in foods, and whether they are present at levels that could pose a health problem, Alexandre de Sart and his colleagues tested chocolate and other sweets for 10 different types of alpha- and beta-unsaturated carbonyls, some of which… The safety of which has been confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority, while others are still under evaluation.

The team created their own chocolate and found that unsaturated alpha and beta carbonyls were formed during roasting and after the addition of cocoa butter. However, their concentrations remained too low to pose any health concerns from chocolate consumption.

Next, the researchers examined 22 commercially available desserts, including crepes, pancakes, cakes and cookies, either with or without chocolate. In these packaged sweets, they found lower concentrations of 9 out of 10 carbons than in chocolate.

The genotoxic furan-2(5H)ON appeared at much higher concentrations in crepe and cake samples, reaching 4.3 milligrams per kilogram. Given that the recommended limit for genotoxic substances is only 0.15 micrograms per person per day, consumption of these sweets could exceed this limit, although additional studies are needed to accurately evaluate the potential health risks.

The researchers concluded that a furan-2(5H)ON molecule likely forms during the baking process, and does not appear to be related to the amount of chocolate found in packaged sweets. The team says this work helps better understand the source of these carbonyls in chocolate, and highlights the importance of monitoring them in food.