Infant formula provides essential nutrition for infants who are unable to breastfeed. Ensuring the safety of these formulas is vital for the health and development of babies worldwide. In an article published in the journal Analytica Chimica Acta, researchers from various institutions have introduced an innovative method for the simultaneous determination of carbonyl compounds in infant formulas, which may arise as a result of thermal treatments and oxidative processes during manufacturing.

Analytica Chimica Acta, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, published the article with the DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2023.342164 on February 1, 2024 (Volume 1288). Authored by Jorge A. Custodio-Mendoza et al., the research outlines a gas-diffusion microextraction technique combined with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) that has been validated to identify and quantify the presence of harmful compounds such as acrolein, malondialdehyde, and α-dicarbonyl compounds, which can serve as indicators of infant formula quality.


Infant formulas are subject to stringent safety measures, including heat treatments that ensure product stability and microbial safety. However, these procedures can also lead to the formation of various carbonyl compounds through processes like the Maillard reaction and lipid peroxidation, which can potentially affect the health of infants. Current detection methods for these compounds in food matrices are often labor-intensive, time-consuming, and require large volumes of organic solvents.

The Study

This study, led by Jorge A. Custodio-Mendoza of Warsaw University of Life Sciences and the University of Santiago de Compostela, aimed to develop a new method that is both time and cost-efficient while still providing the high sensitivity and accuracy needed for the detection of these critical indicators in infant formulas.

The researchers used o-phenylenediamine derivatives to detect the presence of methylglyoxal, glyoxal, diacetyl, malondialdehyde, and acrolein, and assessed several parameters to enhance extraction efficiency. The HPLC with UV detection method showed excellent linearity, sensitivity, and precision for the target compounds. They applied this method to 26 different infant formula samples, including starter, follow-up, and specialized formulas.


The findings revealed that all samples contained measurable amounts of methylglyoxal, with concentrations ranging from 0.201 to 3.153 μg mL^-1. The validated method has demonstrated promising results and offers a new, efficient way to ensure the safety and quality of infant formulas.


The implications of this research extend beyond a single method; it has the potential to advance quality control practices in the infant formula industry and, by extension, maintain high standards of infant health. The method may also pivot to a broader application in other food matrices where similar compounds are of concern.

Financial and ethical transparency is upheld as the authors have declared no competing interests. The research was backed by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities and funded by Project RTI2018‐096450‐B‐I00 and FEDER funds, demonstrating institutional support for innovative food safety research.


1. Custodio-Mendoza, J. A., et al. (2024). Simultaneous determination of carbonyl compounds related to thermal treatment and oxidative stability of infant formulas by gas-diffusion microextraction and high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection. Analytica Chimica Acta, 1288, 342164.
2. (Reference detailing current methods of detection of carbonyl compounds in food matrices)
3. (Reference on the impact of heat treatments on nutritional quality of infant formulas)
4. (Reference related to the Maillard reaction and its effects on infant formulas)
5. (Reference discussing the implications of oxidative stress compounds in infant health)


1. Infant formula safety
2. Carbonyl compounds detection
3. Gas-diffusion microextraction
4. HPLC UV detection infant formula
5. Thermal treatment oxidative stability

This article signifies a breakthrough in food science, particularly for infant nutrition safety. The research suggests that with the adoption of such advanced analytical methods, consumers and industry regulators can be assured of the efforts being made to protect the health and well-being of infants through rigorous quality control.