Comparison of Approaches for Authentication of Commercial Terpinen-4-ol-type Tea Tree Oils Using Chiral GC/MS

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J Agric Food Chem. 2024 Apr 3. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.3c08140. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

A global demand for tea tree oil (TTO) has resulted in increased adulteration in commercial products. In this study, we use a novel enantiomeric gas chromatography mass spectrometry method for chiral analysis of key terpenes ((±)-terpinen-4-ol, (±)-α-terpineol, and (±)-limonene) and quantification of components present at >0.01% to test different methods of identifying adulterated TTO. Data from authentic Australian (n = 88) and oxidized (n = 12) TTO samples of known provenance were consistent with recommended ranges in ISO 4730:2017 and previously published enantiomeric ratios, with p-cymene identified as the major marker of TTO oxidation. The 15 ISO 4730:2017 constituents comprised between 84.5 and 89.8% of the total ion chromatogram (TIC) peak area. An additional 53 peaks were detected in all samples (7.3-11.0% of TIC peak area), while an additional 43 peaks were detected in between 0 and 99% (0.15-2.0% of the TIC peak area). Analysis of nine commercial samples demonstrated that comparison to the ISO 4730:2017 standard does not always identify adulterated TTO samples. While statistical analysis of minor components in TTO did identify two commercial samples that differed from authentic TTO, the (+)-enantiomer percentages for limonene, terpinen-4-ol, and α-terpineol provided clearer evidence that these samples were adulterated. Thus, straightforward identification of unadulterated and unoxidized TTO could be based on analysis of appropriate enantiomeric ratios and quantitation of the p-cymene percentage.

PMID:38568986 | DOI:10.1021/acs.jafc.3c08140