The impact of fermentation on the distribution of cadmium in cacao beans

Vandersypen Klaartje, De Mesmaeker Vincent, Mounicou Sandra, Isaure Marie-Pierre, Doelsch Emmanuel, Montalvo Daniela, Delcour Jan A., Smolders Erik. 2020. The impact of fermentation on the distribution of cadmium in cacao beans. Food Research International, 127:108743, 9 p.

Journal article ; Article de recherche ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact
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Abstract : 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.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Fève de cacao, Cadmium, Fermentation, Analyse qualitative, Spectroscopie infrarouge, Flaveur

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Équateur

Mots-clés complémentaires : Filière agro-alimentaire

Mots-clés libres : Cadmium, Cacao beans, Fermentation, Laser ablation imaging (LA-ICP-MS), X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy

Classification Agris : Q03 - Food contamination
Q04 - Food composition
U30 - Research methods

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 2 (2019-) - Transitions agroécologiques

Agence(s) de financement européenne(s) : European Commission

Programme de financement européen : H2020

Projet(s) de financement européen(s) : SPEciation and dynamiCs of TRace Elements

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Vandersypen Klaartje, KUL (BEL) - auteur correspondant
  • De Mesmaeker Vincent, KUL (BEL)
  • Mounicou Sandra, CNRS (FRA)
  • Isaure Marie-Pierre, CNRS (FRA)
  • Doelsch Emmanuel, CIRAD-PERSYST-UPR Recyclage et risque (FRA) ORCID: 0000-0002-7478-4296
  • Montalvo Daniela, KUL (BEL)
  • Delcour Jan A., KUL (BEL)
  • Smolders Erik, KUL (BEL)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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