`Olive Center Offers Chemical Testing - Olive Oil Times

Olive Center Offers Chemical Testing

Nov. 19, 2012
Nancy Flagg

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The UC Davis Olive Center announced that it is now offer­ing olive oil chem­i­cal and sen­sory eval­u­a­tions. Included among the choices of chem­i­cal analy­ses are tests known as DAGs and PPP. UC Davis is the only lab­o­ra­tory in the U.S. pro­vid­ing these par­tic­u­lar chem­i­cal indi­ca­tors of olive oil qual­ity, said the cen­ter’s direc­tor Dan Flynn.

The deci­sion to offer chem­i­cal analy­ses was dri­ven by requests from pro­duc­ers, retail­ers and importers, accord­ing to Flynn.

Flynn stated that most oils pass the International Olive Council (IOC) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) chem­istry stan­dards for extra vir­gin even though sen­sory tests fail the same oils for ran­cid and fusty fla­vors.

A 2010 UC Davis Olive Center report indi­cated that the IOC/USDA chem­i­cal stan­dards would be more effec­tive if they included the newer chem­i­cal stan­dards adopted by Germany and
Australia that mea­sure DAGs (1,2 dia­cyl­glyc­erol) and PPP (pyropheo­phytins) lev­els and cor­re­late well with sen­sory tests.

The UC Davis Olive Center offers the DAGs/PPP test as well as other chem­istry and sen­sory tests.


The sen­sory tests have been offered for about eight months, said Flynn. He indi­cated that the cen­ter’s tests pro­vide more descrip­tive terms than the IOC/USDA sen­sory tests. For exam­ple, the IOC/USDA requires test­ing the fruiti­ness of an oil. The Olive Center tests will fur­ther elab­o­rate on the char­ac­ter­is­tics of fruiti­ness, with descrip­tive terms such as, flo­ral, green apple, green almond or banana.

Sensory pan­els con­tain at least eight trained tasters. Many of the testers have been on pan­els for as long as ten years while oth­ers are appren­tices with more than two years expe­ri­ence. The testers gen­er­ally meet weekly but Flynn said that the goal is to get results quickly to pro­duc­ers and if the demand is there, the sen­sory tests may be sched­uled more fre­quently.

Results of chem­i­cal and sen­sory tests are con­fi­den­tial but data (with­out pro­ducer names) may be col­lected for research pur­poses, noted Flynn.


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