A study published in the journal Food Chemistry set out to establish the quality of olive oil samples produced in North Morocco.

A recent study reported that the major­ity of Moroccan olive oil sam­ples met International Olive Council (IOC) stan­dards.

Even though olive cul­ti­va­tion has been part of Morocco’s agri­cul­tural scene since the Roman era, and Morocco is the world’s sixth largest pro­ducer of olive oil, the qual­ity and com­po­si­tional pecu­liar­i­ties of Moroccan olive oil have been rel­a­tively unknown.

To ensure that olive oil pro­duced in Morocco meets IOC stan­dards and require­ments, authors of a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Food Chemistry in January set out to estab­lish a data­base of qual­ity and purity cri­te­ria of olive oil sam­ples pro­duced in North Morocco.

Quality of olive oil depends on sev­eral fac­tors includ­ing the type of soil, cli­mate con­di­tions, olive cul­ti­var and farm­ing tech­niques, as well as the meth­ods used to extract olive oil.

Researchers ana­lyzed 279 sam­ples of Moroccan olive oil from the pre­dom­i­nant Picholine Marocaine cul­ti­var that is grown in seven regions of North Morocco.

Using the stan­dards set by the IOC, the researchers clas­si­fied 94 per­cent of the Moroccan olive oils from the stud­ied regions as extra vir­gin oils, while only 6 per­cent were clas­si­fied as vir­gin olive oils.

The Moroccan olive oils also met IOC stan­dards for monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, rang­ing from 75 to 77 per­cent. Polyunsaturated fatty acids were 10 to 12 per­cent, while sat­u­rated fatty acid con­tent var­ied from 12 to 13 per­cent in the olive oil sam­ples.

Oleic acid was the most abun­dant monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acid and linoleic acid was the most abun­dant polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acid in the olive oil sam­ples stud­ied.

While major­ity of the sam­ples met the require­ment of less than one per­cent of linolenic acid, 32 olive oil sam­ples had linolenic acid at a con­cen­tra­tion above the upper limit of one per­cent estab­lished by the IOC.

The authors hypoth­e­sized that the pres­ence of high lev­els of linolenic acid in some olive oils from North Morocco could be due to the drought and tem­per­a­ture stress that char­ac­ter­ize these olive grow­ing areas.

(Only one Moroccan olive oil was entered in the 2015 New York International Olive Oil Competition. The brand, Morok O, earned a Gold Award for its medium inten­sity blend.)

The researchers said the research ini­ti­ated the build­ing of a data­base to char­ac­ter­ize Moroccan olive oils from a monomer olive vari­ety based on their physic­o­chem­i­cal qual­ity para­me­ters and purity cri­te­ria. It also iden­ti­fied areas that pro­duced olive oil with higher lev­els of linolenic acid than those estab­lished as the upper lim­its by the IOC stan­dards.

The authors believe that con­tin­u­ing this work could help in estab­lish­ing com­pre­hen­sive char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of vir­gin olive oils from Morocco.



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