Underestimation of pyruvic acid concentrations by fructose and cysteine in 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine-mediated onion pungency test. Academic Article uri icon


  • Onion pungency has been routinely measured by determining pyruvic acid concentration in onion juice by reacting with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) since 1961. However, the absorbency of the color adduct of the reaction rapidly decreased in onion samples as compared to that of the pyruvic acid standards, resulting in underestimations of the pyruvic acid concentrations. By measuring the absorbency at 1 min, we have demonstrated that accuracy could be substantially improved. As a continuation, the causes of degradation of the color adduct after the reaction and pyruvic acid itself before the reaction were examined in this study. Alliinase action in juice (fresh or cooked) and bulb colors did not influence the degradation. Some organic acids indigenously found in onion, such as ascorbic acid, proline, and glutamic acid, did not reduce the absorbency. However, fructose within the onion juice or supplemented caused the degradation of the color adduct, whereas sucrose and glucose had a lesser effect. Degradation rates increased proportionally as fructose concentrations increased up to 70 mg/mL. Cysteine was found to degrade the pyruvic acid itself before the pyruvic acid could react with DNPH. Approximately 90% of the pyruvic acid was degraded after 60 min in samples of 7 mM pyruvic acid supplemented with 10 mg/mL cysteine. Spectral comparisons of onion juice containing fructose naturally and pyruvic acid solution with supplemented fructose indicated identical patterns and confirmed that the color-adduct degradation was caused by fructose. Our study elucidated that fructose, a major sugar in onion juice, caused the degradation of color adduct in the onion pungency test and resulted in underestimation of the pyruvic acid concentration.

published proceedings

  • J Food Sci

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Yoo, K. S., Lee, E. J., & Patil, B. S.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Yoo, Kil Sun||Lee, Eun Jin||Patil, Bhimanagouda S

publication date

  • October 2011