Application Note: Comparing the chemical profiles of plant-based and traditional meats using GC/MS-based metabolomics

This app note describes untargeted GC/MS based metabolomics approach to comparing chemical profiles of plant based meat alternative and grass-fed ground beef

As the consumer interest and market for plant-based meat alternatives grows, understanding the nutritional differences between alternative and traditional meats is essential. This application note describes an untargeted GC/MS‑based metabolomics approach to comparing the chemical profiles of a popular plant‑based meat alternative and grass-fed ground beef that uses an Agilent 7890 gas chromatograph (GC) system coupled to an Agilent 5977 GC/MSD. Samples were derivatized to simplify chromatography and render polar metabolites more volatile for GC/MS analysis. Statistical and multivariate analysis of the acquired and processed GC/MS data revealed that that 90% of the annotated compounds differed between the plant-based alternative meat and grass-fed ground beef samples. The ground beef and plant-based products each contained several compounds that were found in much smaller quantities, or not at all, in the other product. These results indicate differences in organic composition even though the nutritional labels on the back of the products were similar. Heat maps, PCA score plots, VIP plots, and clustering of compounds into metabolite classes provided further insights into the differences between the types of meat products. The biological significance of the comparative data was studied using online databases and pathway analysis tools.