News Release

Mystery of novel clove-like off-flavor in orange juice solved

Off-flavor in orange juice

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Leibniz-Institut für Lebensmittel-Systembiologie an der TU München

Eva Bauersachs in the sensory lab


PhD student Eva Bauersachs is working in the sensory lab at the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich

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Credit: photo credit: J. Krpelan / Leibniz-LSB@TUM

A research team led by the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich has solved the mystery of a novel clove-like off-flavor in orange juice, the cause of which was previously unknown. The study proves for the first time that the undesirable flavor note is due to the odorant 5-vinylguaiacol. As the results of the study show, the substance is mainly produced during the pasteurization process when residues of a cleaning agent react with a natural orange juice component under the influence of heat.

This is not the first time that the orange juice industry has had to contend with clove odor. So far, 4-vinylguaiacol has been considered the main cause of this undesirable flavor note, which is particularly abundant in orange juices that have been stored for a long time. The quantitative determination of this odorant has therefore long been an established part of routine quality controls.

Eva Bauersachs, PhD student at the Leibniz Institute in Freising and first author of the study, explains: "Recently, however, we have received reports of orange juice samples that had a pronounced clove odor despite a low concentration of 4-vinylguaiacol. We therefore asked ourselves which other odorants contribute to this undesirable off-flavor."

On the trail of off-flavors

To investigate this question, the research group led by Martin Steinhaus, head of the Food Metabolome Chemistry research group at the Leibniz Institute, carried out extensive investigations in cooperation with the Professorship of Functional Phytometabolomics and the Chair of Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensory Science at the Technical University of Munich. The aim was to identify the odorants that cause the previously unexplained off-flavor and to elucidate their origins.

Using techniques such as gas chromatography-olfactometry and aroma extract dilution analysis, the team identified the odorant 5-vinylguaiacol as the source of the off-flavor in an orange juice with a pronounced clove odor. The presence of this substance in orange juice was previously unknown. Compared to 4-vinylguaiacol, it even proved to be more odor-active in five out of six commercially available orange juices with a clove-like off-flavor.

Natural component + cleaning agent residue + heat = off-flavor

Further studies suggested that 5-vinylguaiacol is formed during pasteurization when the characteristic orange juice component hesperidin reacts with peracetic acid. Peracetic acid is used as a cleaning agent for cleaning-in-place (CIP) in the fruit juice industry, among others.

"Inadequate rinsing of the machines after the CIP process could therefore have led to contamination of the orange juice with peracetic acid and caused the formation of 5-vinylguaiacol during further processing," says principal investigator Martin Steinhaus. Based on the new scientific findings, the team recommends that orange juice processing companies should no longer use peracetic acid as a cleaning agent.

Publication: Bauersachs, E., Walser, V., Reglitz, K., Dawid, C., and Steinhaus, M. (2024). Peracetic acid residues in orange juice can lead to a 5-vinylguaiacol-induced clove-like off-flavor via Baeyer-Villiger oxidation of hesperidin. Food Chemistry 440, 138252.

More Information:

Other sources of off-flavors in orange juice:

4- and 5-vinylguaiacol are not the only odorants that may be the cause of off-flavors in orange juice. For example, heating orange juice can produce cabbage-like smelling dimethyl sulfide. Prolonged storage of the juice can also lead to chemical reactions that produce α-terpineol, which smells like turpentine. This odorant is formed under the influence of acid from the compounds limonene and linalool, which are present in high concentrations in orange juice. In addition, oxidation reactions during storage can lead to the formation of (S)-carvone from limonene, which smells like caraway.

Orange juice is very popular:

Orange juice is one of the world's most popular beverages. According to Statista data from 2022, the amount consumed annually was around 8.15 billion liters. The USA and Germany had the highest consumption rates, with per capita consumption of around 6.6 and 5.9 liters respectively.


Scientific Contact:

PD Dr. Martin Steinhaus
Speaker of Section I and Head of the Research Group Food Metabolome Chemistry
Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology
at the Technical University of Munich (Leibniz-LSB@TUM)
Lise-Meitner-Str. 34
85354 Freising, Germany
E-mail: m.steinhaus.leibniz-lsb(at)

Eva Bauersachs
Research Group Food Metabolome Chemistry
Phone: +49 8161 71-2722
E-mail: e.bauersachs.leibniz-lsb(at)

Press Contact at Leibniz-LSB@TUM:

Dr. Gisela Olias
Knowledge Transfer, Press and Public Relations
Phone: +49 8161 71-2980
E-mail: g.olias.leibniz-lsb(at)

Information about the Institute:

The Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich (Leibniz-LSB@TUM) comprises a new, unique research profile at the interface of Food Chemistry & Biology, Chemosensors & Technology, and Bioinformatics & Machine Learning. As this profile has grown far beyond the previous core discipline of classical food chemistry, the institute spearheads the development of a food systems biology. Its aim is to develop new approaches for the sustainable production of sufficient quantities of food whose biologically active effector molecule profiles are geared to health and nutritional needs, but also to the sensory preferences of consumers. To do so, the institute explores the complex networks of sensorically relevant effector molecules along the entire food production chain with a focus on making their effects systemically understandable and predictable in the long term.

The Leibniz-LSB@TUM is a member of the Leibniz Association, which connects 97 independent research institutions. Their orientation ranges from the natural sciences, engineering and environmental sciences through economics, spatial and social sciences to the humanities. Leibniz Institutes devote themselves to social, economic and ecological issues. They conduct knowledge-oriented and application-oriented research, also in the overlapping Leibniz research networks, are or maintain scientific infrastructures and offer research-based services. The Leibniz Association focuses on knowledge transfer, especially with the Leibniz Research Museums. It advises and informs politics, science, business and the public. Leibniz institutions maintain close cooperation with universities - among others, in the form of the Leibniz Science Campuses, industry and other partners in Germany and abroad. They are subject to a transparent and independent review process. Due to their national significance, the federal government and the federal states jointly fund the institutes of the Leibniz Association. The Leibniz Institutes employ around 21,000 people, including almost 12,000 scientists. The entire budget of all the institutes is more than two billion euros.

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