Citral is a major flavor component of citrus oils that can undergo chemical degradation leading to loss of aroma and formation of off-flavors. Engineering the interface of emulsion droplets with emulsifiers that inhibit chemical reactions could provide a novel technique to stabilize citral. The objective of this study was to determine if citral was more stable in emulsions stabilized with whey protein isolate (WPI) than gum arabic (GA). Degradation of citral was equal to or less in GA- than WPI-stabilized emulsion at pH 3.0 and 7.0. However, formation of the citral oxidation product, p-cymene was greater in the GA- than WPI-stabilized emulsion at pH 3.0 and 7.0. Emulsions stabilized by WPI had a better creaming stability than those stabilized by GA because the protein emulsifier was able to produce smaller lipid droplets during homogenization. These data suggest that WPI was able to inhibit the oxidative deterioration of citral in oil-in-water emulsions. The ability of WPI to decrease oxidative reactions could be due to the formation of a cationic emulsion droplet interface at pH 3.0 which can repel prooxidative metals and/or the ability of amino acids in WPI to scavenge free radical and chelate prooxidative metals.
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