Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Characterization of virgin olive oil

The project concerns the development of an integrated set of analytical methods for characterizing extra-virgin olive oil in terms of regional typicity (a function of geographic origin, olive variety and extraction process). This would be helpful in setting up `quality labels' for European oleaginous products in line with European directives on `guaranteed origin' and would also reduce the incidence of adulteration and misbranding. Media reports have highlighted cases of gross adulteration of European oils sold on the American market where extra-virgin olive oil contained up to 90% of cheaper seed oils. Such malpractice is `encouraged' by the high price commanded by high quality olive oil. The project applies isotopic techniques to the authentication of extra-virgin olive oil. The carbon-13 and deuterium contents of a natural product are excellent indicators of the biosynthetic pathway via which they are produced. The carbon 13 and deuterium content of the water and carbon dioxide taken up by the plant during its growing period relate to both climatic (rainfall, temperature) and geographical (altitude, distance from the sea) effects and are reflected in the content of isotopes in the final product (ie the oil). Two special techniques called isotope ratio mass spectrometry and site-specific natural isotopic fractionation by nuclear magnetic resonance are being used to obtain the ratios of isotopic to normal carbon, and isotopic to normal hydrogen in olive oil samples, and in the fatty acids and methyl esters isolated from the oils, thereby giving an isotopic fingerprint for each sample. Initial results using isotopic techniques for both botanical and geographical authentication are promising. However, only the examination of a larger data set will enable the authentication power of these techniques to be ascertained.

Contacto

Síganos en: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Gestionado por la Oficina de Publicaciones de la UE Arriba