A method to detect the presence of common wheat in durum wheat flour samples was developed and tested. Flour samples, or ground wheat samples, were digested by pepsin and chymotrypsin, and the peptide mixture obtained was analyzed by LC/ESI-MS and LC/ESI-MS/MS, which led to the identification of two marker peptides. One peptide was coded only in the DD genome, and thus present only in common wheat; the second was present in all wheat samples (both common and durum), so it was used as marker of the total wheat content. The ratio of the chromatographic areas of these two peptides, as determined by LC/ESI-MS, was related to the proportion of common wheat in the sample using a calibration curve that was constructed with standards of known composition. The proportions of common wheat in samples obtained by mixing different common and durum wheat varieties were accurately determined by this method. Finally, the method was applied in a survey of several durum wheat flour brands present on the Italian market. The results of the survey revealed that contamination of durum wheat flour with common wheat is commonplace.
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