The simultaneous determination of two food colorants (cochineal (E-120) and erythrosine (E-127)) was achieved by means of excitation-emission fluorescence matrices and three-way PARAFAC decomposition together with the use of a calibration set that contained binary mixtures of both analytes. In the measured conditions, the amount of cochineal present in the sample affected the fluorescence signal of erythrosine since cochineal caused a quenching effect in the fluorescence of the other food additive. However, the signal of cochineal was not affected by the presence of erythrosine.
A calibration line for erythrosine was built for each different concentration level of cochineal. The slopes of these regressions were different depending on the amount of quencher, whereas the intercepts were statistically equal to 0 at a 95% confidence level. The quantification of erythrosine was possible using the regression “amount of cochineal” versus “the slope of the calibration line for erythrosine”. Using this procedure, the mean of the absolute values of the relative errors in prediction for mixtures of both colorants were 5.86% (n = 10) for cochineal and 4.17% (n = 10) for erythrosine. Both analytes were unequivocally identified by the correlation between the pure spectra and the PARAFAC excitation and emission spectral loadings.
Pitted cherries in syrup were analyzed. Cochineal and erythrosine were detected in those cherries at a concentration of 185.05 mg kg−1 and 10.76 mg kg−1, respectively. These concentration values were statistically equal to the ones obtained with a HPLC/DAD method.