Total protein methods and their potential utility to reduce the risk of food protein adulteration

Jeffrey C. Moore, Jonathan W. DeVries, Markus Lipp, James C. Griffiths, Darrell R. Abernethy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Kjeldahl and combustion (Dumas) methods are widely accepted for total protein determination but lack analytical selectivity for protein because they measure protein on the basis of sample nitrogen content. Adulteration incidents exploiting this analytical vulnerability (for example, melamine) demonstrate that these methods are no longer sufficient to protect the public health. This article explores the challenges and opportunities to move beyond total nitrogen based methods for total protein measurement. First, it explores the early history of protein measurement science, complexities of current global protein measurement activities, and ideal analytical performance characteristics for new methods. Second, it comprehensively reviews the pros and cons of current and emerging approaches for protein measurement, including their selectivity for protein, ability to detect adulteration, and practicality for routine use throughout the supply chain. It concludes that some existing highly selective methods for food protein measurement have potential for routine quality control. It also concludes that their successful implementation will require matrix-specific validation and the use of supporting reference materials. These methods may be suitable only for food ingredients that have a low degree of compositional variability and are not complex finished food products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-357
Number of pages28
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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