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Oleum Develops New Tools for EVOO Analysis, Authentication

Mar. 9, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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The Oleum Project has develĀ­oped a new set of tools for the analyĀ­sis and the authenĀ­tiĀ­caĀ­tion of extra virĀ­gin olive oil.

Experts from the European Union-funded orgaĀ­niĀ­zaĀ­tion told Olive Oil Times they expect the project to set new stanĀ­dards in comĀ­batĀ­ing olive oil fraud and assessĀ­ing qualĀ­ity, among other goals.

This is an adeĀ­quate platĀ­form to be impleĀ­mented alongĀ­side the senĀ­sory panel in olive oil clasĀ­siĀ­fiĀ­caĀ­tion operĀ­aĀ­tions.- Anna Cane, presĀ­iĀ­dent, Assitol

According to the project coorĀ­diĀ­naĀ­tors, the group has already reported their findĀ­ings to the International Olive Council and is disĀ­cussing their potenĀ­tial impacts on extra virĀ­gin olive oil cerĀ­tiĀ­fiĀ­caĀ­tion and prodĀ­uct assessĀ­ment.

ā€œOleum has develĀ­oped innoĀ­vĀ­aĀ­tive soluĀ­tions and perĀ­fected existĀ­ing techĀ­niques to verĀ­ify betĀ­ter that the qualĀ­ity of the olive oil is conĀ­sisĀ­tent with what is declared by the proĀ­ducĀ­ers, thus unmaskĀ­ing illeĀ­gal blends and other fraudĀ­uĀ­lent pracĀ­tices,ā€ said Tullia Gallina Toschi, a proĀ­fesĀ­sor of food sciĀ­ence and techĀ­nolĀ­ogy at the University of Bologna and coorĀ­diĀ­naĀ­tor of the research group. ā€œ[The project is] also proĀ­vidĀ­ing innoĀ­vĀ­aĀ­tive tools for the verĀ­iĀ­fiĀ­caĀ­tion of geoĀ­graphĀ­iĀ­cal oriĀ­gin.ā€

See Also:Even Dark Glass Bottles Leave EVOO Susceptible to Oxidation, Study Finds

Among the most promisĀ­ing techĀ­niques was a chroĀ­matoĀ­graphic method, which idenĀ­tiĀ­fies volatile comĀ­pounds in the upper porĀ­tion of an olive oil samĀ­ple.

The method returns a staĀ­tisĀ­tiĀ­cal value based on the volatile comĀ­pounds and deterĀ­mines Pīgš+j_ėāžm~©V„š™§ņ„šHh éąµwhether the olive oil meets the stanĀ­dards set for extra virĀ­gin, virĀ­gin or lamĀ­pante.

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The detecĀ­tion idenĀ­tiĀ­fies the volatile comĀ­pounds and deterĀ­mines their mass. It requires no speĀ­cial high-resĀ­oĀ­luĀ­tion techĀ­noloĀ­gies, which means it has a low cost and is a promisĀ­ing option for wideĀ­spread adopĀ­tion among olive oil comĀ­paĀ­nies.

ā€œThis method returns a speĀ­cific heat map that in the future we could develop as an image,ā€ Gallina Toschi told Olive Oil Times. ā€‹ā€œIt is a bi-dimenĀ­sional proĀ­file that repĀ­reĀ­sents the comĀ­plexĀ­ity of the volatile comĀ­pounds in the samĀ­ple. The elabĀ­oĀ­raĀ­tion of those maps can lead to olive oil clasĀ­siĀ­fiĀ­caĀ­tion in the three difĀ­ferĀ­ent catĀ­eĀ­gories.ā€

Along with accuĀ­rately deterĀ­minĀ­ing olive oil qualĀ­ity, Gallina Toschi believes that the tools being develĀ­oped by the Oleum Project could also help proĀ­ducĀ­ers conĀ­sisĀ­tently creĀ­ate a uniĀ­form blend of difĀ­ferĀ­ent olive oils.

ā€œWhen we blend olive oil, we smell and evalĀ­uĀ­ate the bouĀ­quet of the volatile comĀ­pounds,ā€ she said. ā€‹ā€œAn analyĀ­sis of the volatile fracĀ­tion or its screenĀ­ing may proĀ­vide an unamĀ­biguĀ­ous charĀ­acĀ­terĀ­iĀ­zaĀ­tion of a speĀ­cific prodĀ­uct.ā€

ā€œWith dedĀ­iĀ­cated tools, the proĀ­ducer could choose to proĀ­duce a blended extra virĀ­gin olive oil with speĀ­cific charĀ­acĀ­terĀ­isĀ­tics while also being able to repliĀ­cate it over time,ā€ Gallina Toschi added.

Beyond helpĀ­ing proĀ­ducĀ­ers, Gallina Toschi said that the new tools might also impact extra virĀ­gin olive oil shipĀ­ping and the prodĀ­uctsā€™ shelf-life.

If an olive oil arrives at its desĀ­tiĀ­naĀ­tion and no longer meets the stanĀ­dards of ā€‹ā€œextra virĀ­gin,ā€ Gallina Toschi said the techĀ­nolĀ­ogy could be used to deterĀ­mine what went wrong durĀ­ing the shipĀ­ping process.

ā€œThrough the analyĀ­sis of the volatile fracĀ­tion of the prodĀ­uct, it is posĀ­siĀ­ble to underĀ­stand what has gone wrong, what specifĀ­iĀ­cally has caused the defect,ā€ she said. ā€‹ā€œBy comĀ­parĀ­ing the samĀ­ples before and after shipĀ­ping, we could end up with a tool to guarĀ­anĀ­tee the qualĀ­ity of the prodĀ­uct when it arrives at the superĀ­marĀ­ket, and a tool to track it over time.ā€

See Also:Quality Controls in Europe Need Improvement, Study Finds

According to Assitol, the Italian assoĀ­ciĀ­aĀ­tion of olive oil proĀ­ducĀ­ers, the Oleum Projectā€™s tools to anaĀ­lyze the volatile comĀ­pounds have already shown excelĀ­lent results. The assoĀ­ciĀ­aĀ­tion and its indusĀ­trial partĀ­ners formed a dedĀ­iĀ­cated task force to test the effiĀ­ciency of the detecĀ­tors.

ā€œWe tried to apply this tool to the daily activĀ­ity of the secĀ­tor and now we have no doubts: at the moment, this is an adeĀ­quate platĀ­form to be impleĀ­mented alongĀ­side the senĀ­sory panel in olive oil clasĀ­siĀ­fiĀ­caĀ­tion operĀ­aĀ­tions,ā€ said Anna Cane, the presĀ­iĀ­dent of Assitol. ā€‹ā€œWe must now accelĀ­erĀ­ate the process to have that method valĀ­iĀ­dated and approved.ā€

ā€œThis tool has shown to be very useĀ­ful because it is capaĀ­ble of idenĀ­tiĀ­fyĀ­ing hunĀ­dreds of molĀ­eĀ­cules responĀ­siĀ­ble for the senĀ­soĀ­rĀ­ial proĀ­file of the olive oil,ā€ she added. ā€‹ā€œThe senĀ­sory panel remains essenĀ­tial, but with this new ally, it can become even stronger and more effiĀ­cient for extra virĀ­gin olive oil qualĀ­ity conĀ­trol.ā€

Another of the four-year projectā€™s main achieveĀ­ments is the Oleum Databank, which includes the research findĀ­ings on Oleum-valĀ­iĀ­dated methĀ­ods and serves as a reliĀ­able refĀ­erĀ­ence for the olive oil secĀ­tor stakeĀ­holdĀ­ers and genĀ­eral pubĀ­lic.

Oleum Project sciĀ­enĀ­tists told a recent conĀ­ferĀ­ence that the need for new methĀ­ods to idenĀ­tify fraud while proĀ­motĀ­ing qualĀ­ity and extra virĀ­gin olive oil authenĀ­ticĀ­ity is growĀ­ing within the European Union.

E.U. memĀ­bers account for 70 perĀ­cent of worldĀ­wide olive oil proĀ­ducĀ­tion, but extraā€‘E.U. comĀ­peĀ­tiĀ­tion is growĀ­ing, a sceĀ­nario that makes assessĀ­ing qualĀ­ity and cerĀ­tiĀ­fyĀ­ing extra virĀ­gin olive oil prodĀ­ucts cruĀ­cial to all involved parĀ­ties and conĀ­sumers.

ā€œThe high price of olive oil, its disĀ­tincĀ­tive senĀ­sory proĀ­file and repĀ­uĀ­taĀ­tion as a healthy source of dietary fats make it a tarĀ­get for adulĀ­terĀ­ation, illeĀ­gal blendĀ­ing with other vegĀ­etable oils or delibĀ­erĀ­ate misĀ­laĀ­belling of less expenĀ­sive classes of olive oil,ā€ the researchers at the Oleum Project said. ā€‹ā€œAs a result, olive oil adulĀ­terĀ­ation for finanĀ­cial gain has become one of the biggest sources of agriĀ­culĀ­tural fraud in the E.U.ā€

ā€œWe expect that the new methĀ­ods will impact the qualĀ­ity conĀ­trol techĀ­niques in the next 10 to 15ā€Æyears,ā€ Gallina Toschi said. ā€‹ā€œWe expect a global impact in a few years. The whole indusĀ­try is lookĀ­ing to the E.U. Oleum Project.ā€



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