Citral is widely used in the beverage, food, and fragrance industries for its characteristic flavor profile. However, it chemically degrades over time in aqueous solutions due to an acid-catalyzed reaction, which leads to loss of desirable flavor notes and formation of off-flavor notes. The objective of this research was to examine the impact of organic phase composition [triacetin and medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCT)] on the oil-water partitioning and chemical degradation of citral in oil-in-water emulsions. MCT was present as emulsion droplets (d approximately 900 nm), whereas triacetin was present as microemulsion droplets (d approximately 10 nm). In the absence of organic phase, the rate of citral degradation increased as the aqueous phase pH was reduced from 7 to 3. The percentage of citral within the aqueous phase increased with increasing triacetin concentration at both pH 3 and 7, which was attributed to a reduction in MCT droplet concentration. There was no significant change in the particle size distribution of the emulsions during storage, independent of triacetin concentration and pH, which indicated that they were physically stable. Both 5 wt % MCT as emulsion droplets and 5 wt % triacetin as microemulsion droplets were able to appreciably slow citral degradation at pH 3. These results may have important implications for understanding and improving the chemical stability of citral in beverage emulsions.
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