Specific HPLC approaches are essential for carbohydrate characterization in food products. Carbohydrates are weak acids with pKa values in the range 12–14 and, consequently, at high pH can be transformed into oxyanions, and can be readily separated using highly efficient anion-exchange columns. Electrochemical detection in HPLC has been proven to be a powerful analytical technique for the determination of compounds containing electroactive groups; pulsed amperometric detection of carbohydrates is favourably performed by taking advantage of their electrocatalytic oxidation mechanism at a gold working electrode in a basic media. High-performance Anion Exchange Chromatography (HPAEC) at high pH coupled with pulsed electrochemical detection (PED) is one of the most useful techniques for carbohydrate determination either for routine monitoring or research application. This technique has been of a great impact on the analysis of oligo- and polysaccharides. The compatibility of electrochemical detection with gradient elution, coupled with the high selectivity of the anion-exchange stationary phases, allows mixtures of simple sugars, oligo- and polysaccharides to be separated with high resolution in a single run. A few reviews have been written on HPAEC-PED of carbohydrates of food interest in the last years. In this paper the recent developments in this field are examined.
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