GCxGC-MS holds the key to tastier veggie burgers

More and more individuals and organizations are looking to shift towards more sustainable products and services. Companies are working to develop products that consume fewer resources and are more environmentally friendly.

Unilever is one such company. The pioneering flavor company has been developing delicious new plant-based protein substitutes that are more sustainable than their meat-based counterparts. These protein substitutes are designed to be as - or, ideally, more - healthy than animal products.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nina Firsova

The goal of Unilever scientists Hans-Gerd Janssen and Ed Rosing was to match the very distinct flavor and mouth-feel of animal meat, creating a more realistic substitute that consumers will enjoy.

One of the most significant issues with plant-derived proteins is that it is a new and continually evolving field with many areas still unexplored. When developing new samples, experimentation and comparison remain the most effective means of gaining knowledge.

Janssen and Rosing’s analytical chemistry knowledge is essential to their work. The team has been using GCxGC-MS in sensory tests to run a range of protein samples, including high rating (“good”) samples or low rating (“bad”) samples. This approach has enabled the generation of a wealth of valuable data.

GCxGC-MS holds the key to tastier veggie burgers

Image Credit: LECO Corporation

Historically, chromatograms were compared by printing out two different samples and holding these up to a light source. The sheer amount of data produced by high-resolution GCxGC-MS means that this type of manual data comparison is no longer feasible.

This extra data is highly beneficial to a range of analyses. The more peaks available, the more differences can be determined between the two samples. More data requires the use of more sophisticated data comparison techniques, however.

The ChromaTOF® Tile software from LECO utilizes Fisher ratios obtained from groups of samples to compare small areas of chromatograms referred to as ‘tiles.’

Using this software, Janssen and Rosing can acquire a list of key differences between their good samples and their bad samples in just ten minutes. This allows their team to focus on compounds that may trigger notable differences in odor, taste, and mouth-feel.

Leveraging the analytical power of GCxGC-MS technology and advanced software like ChromaTOF® Tile, companies such as Unilever continue to improve and refine their plant protein products, moving ever closer to the best-tasting veggie burger.

About LECO Corporation

In 1936, the Laboratory Equipment Company introduced the first rapid carbon determinator to the American iron and steel industry. Today, 75 years later, LECO is recognized globally as a leader in innovative analytical instrumentation, mass spectrometers, metallography and optical equipment, and consumables.

LECO's broad selection of innovative instrumentation incorporates trendsetting automation, easy-to-use software, and the latest technologies into ergonomic designs. This results in instruments that are fast, accurate, and user-friendly—allowing you to increase productivity by achieving a level of throughput that was once unobtainable for many lab managers.

Our four diverse product lines offer you analytical solutions in five different market areas, meeting objectives for a wide variety of applications and scientific techniques. These market areas are described below.

Inorganic analysis

Determinators for carbon, sulfur, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen used for metal and inorganic analyses; glow discharge spectrometers for bulk and/or quantitative depth profile analysis.

Organic analysis

Determinators for carbon, sulfur, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen; analyzers for fat, protein, ash/moisture, mercury, and calorific value.

Microstructural analysis

Metallographic sample preparation equipment; macro and microindentation hardness testers; microscopes; image analysis and management systems; optical accessories.

Separation science (Mass spectrometry)

Fast GC-TOFMS and LC-TOFMS systems with ChromaTOF® software dedicated to a wide variety of organic applications; GCxGC-TOFMS and GCxGC FID/ECD systems offer increased separation power.


Crucibles, ladles, stopper rods, nozzles, kiln furniture, and pressed refractory shapes for the foundry and investment casting industry.

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Last updated: May 3, 2022 at 8:55 AM


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