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    A large fraction of the South-American cacao production is affected by new cadmium (Cd) regulations in cacao. This work was set up to characterize the distribution and speciation of Cd within the cacao fruit and to monitor potential Cd redistribution during cacao fermentation. In cacao fruits from four locations, Cd concentrations decreased with testa > nib ~ placenta ~ pod husk > mucilage. The distribution of Cd within cacao beans was successfully visualized using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and confirmed higher Cd concentrations in the testa than in the nib. Speciation analysis by X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XANES) of unfermented cacao beans revealed that Cd was bound to O/N-ligands in both nib and testa. Fermentation induced an outward Cd migration from the nibs to the testa, i.e. against the total concentration gradient. This migration occurred only if the fermentation was sufficiently extensive to decrease the pH in the nib to <5.0, likely as a result of increased Cd mobility due to organic acid penetration into the nibs. The change in dry weight based nib Cd concentrations during fermentation was, on average, a factor 1.3 decrease. We propose that nib Cd can be reduced if the nib pH is sufficiently acidified during fermentation. However, a balance must be found between flavor development and Cd removal since extreme acidity is detrimental for cacao flavor. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Ruth Vanderschueren, Vincent De Mesmaeker, Sandra Mounicou, Marie-Pierre Isaure, Emmanuel Doelsch, Daniela Montalvo, Jan A Delcour, Eduardo Chavez, Erik Smolders. The impact of fermentation on the distribution of cadmium in cacao beans. Food research international (Ottawa, Ont.). 2020 Jan;127:108743

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    PMID: 31882114

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