`Scientists Use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to Identify Olive Oil Blends - Olive Oil Times

Scientists Use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to Identify Olive Oil Blends

Dec. 21, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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New research con­firms the grow­ing rel­e­vance of nuclear mag­netic res­o­nance (NMR) tech­nolo­gies for the olive oil industry.

The lat­est Italian study, pub­lished in the sci­en­tific jour­nal Foods, hints at the new oppor­tu­ni­ties emerg­ing from the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the mol­e­c­u­lar foot­print of extra vir­gin olive oil blends, which could be used to not only cer­tify their con­tents but also deter­mine the trans­for­ma­tional processes applied to the product.

By the means of this tech­nol­ogy, we could opti­mize and make it eas­ier to cre­ate blends, cer­ti­fy­ing the Italian ori­gin of the final prod­uct, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing between main cul­ti­var and the other olive oils used for the blend, in this way defin­ing the whole of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a spe­cific pro­duc­tion,” Francesco Paolo Fanizzi, a chem­istry pro­fes­sor at the Apulian University of Salento and one of the authors of the study, told Olive Oil Times.

See Also: Olive Oil Traceability

While a tra­di­tional analy­sis of an extra vir­gin olive oil sam­ple allows for the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of spe­cific con­tents, the mol­e­c­u­lar foot­print within a metabolomic (the study of the unique chem­i­cal fin­ger­prints left behind by spe­cific cel­lu­lar processes) approach allows researchers also to iden­tify the processes the sam­ple under­went before becom­ing olive oil, includ­ing the dif­fer­ent trans­for­ma­tion pro­ce­dures that have been used,” Fanizzi said.

The mod­els used for the research were based on 241 com­mer­cial blends pro­duced dur­ing four dif­fer­ent har­vests. Those blends were clas­si­fied by com­par­ing the results to a ref­er­ence data­base com­posed of 126 monocul­ti­var extra vir­gin olive oils.

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The mod­els, explained the researchers, might also offer an indi­rect method to clas­sify com­mer­cial sam­ples accord­ing to their fla­vor, such as their expected bit­ter­ness or pun­gency char­ac­ter­is­tics, although a fur­ther spe­cific cor­re­la­tion study with organolep­tic analy­sis is required to reen­force this result.”

Fanizzi is also among the authors of sep­a­rate research, which was just pub­lished in the Food Chemistry jour­nal, that focuses on the Apulian Coratina cul­ti­var and an extrac­tion process that com­bines ultra­sound and ther­mal tech­niques, ana­lyzed by means of the nuclear mag­netic res­o­nance within a metabolomic approach.

With our col­leagues Maria Lisa Clodoveo and Riccardo Amirante, among oth­ers, we have focused on the dif­fer­ences between a tra­di­tion­ally har­vested and processed Coratina olive oil and a Coratina olive oil obtained through a new extrac­tion process based on ultra­sound tech­nolo­gies,” Fanizzi said.

Among the expected dif­fer­ences between the two, researchers noted a higher yield due to the ultra­sound tech­nol­ogy that effi­ciently tears down the cel­lu­lar walls.” The dif­fer­ences were fur­ther inves­ti­gated com­par­ing the images obtained through the NMR.

The sam­ples do not need any kind of pre-pro­cess­ing to be ana­lyzed,” Fanizzi said. They are just put within an instru­ment able to take a pic­ture of what its con­tents are.”

When researchers com­pared the con­tents of an early har­vest olive oil with a late sea­son har­vest, some unex­pected results emerged.

We are tra­di­tion­ally used to con­sider an early-har­vest extra vir­gin olive oil as a prod­uct show­ing a strong polyphe­no­lic pro­file,” Fanizzi said. But thanks to the mol­e­c­u­lar foot­print, we found that the late har­vest, while giv­ing as expected a higher yield than the early har­vest, also had sim­i­larly high lev­els of polyphe­no­lic contents.”

While such deep spe­cific analy­sis of extra vir­gin olive oil con­tents are far from being con­sid­ered a stan­dard or offi­cial ref­er­ence for the sec­tor, sci­en­tists believe that many pro­duc­ers could ben­e­fit from apply­ing such tech­niques to their products.

At the moment, even if the European Union requires manda­tory label­ing for the olive oil ori­gins, there are no cur­rent offi­cial meth­ods to truly trace the ori­gin of the olive oil,” Fanizzi said. Our sys­tem is now used by com­pa­nies as means of inter­nal audit, which is needed to ver­ify if the prod­ucts that are being sold are those described in their own database.”

This model works both for trac­ing the ori­gin of the prod­ucts and its char­ac­ter­is­tics,” he added. It also may ver­ify the processes and what kind of mod­i­fi­ca­tions [to the olive oil] the trans­for­ma­tion process causes.”





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