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Branched chain aldehydes: production and breakdown pathways and relevance for flavour in foods


Branched aldehydes, such as 2-methyl propanal and 2- and 3-methyl butanal, are important flavour compounds in many food products, both fermented and non-fermented (heat-treated) products. The production and degradation of these aldehydes from amino acids is described and reviewed extensively in literature. This paper reviews aspects influencing the formation of these aldehydes at the level of metabolic conversions, microbial and food composition. Special emphasis was on 3-methyl butanal and its presence in various food products. Knowledge gained about the generation pathways of these flavour compounds is essential for being able to control the formation of desired levels of these aldehydes.

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Smit, B.A., Engels, W.J. & Smit, G. Branched chain aldehydes: production and breakdown pathways and relevance for flavour in foods. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 81, 987–999 (2009).

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  • Fermentative flavour formation
  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Amino acid converting enzymes
  • Branched chain aldehydes
  • 3-Methylbutanal