`Researchers Develop Simplified Way to Determine Polyphenol Contents of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Researchers Develop Simplified Way to Determine Polyphenol Contents of Olive Oil

By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 1, 2023 12:52 UTC

Researchers in Italy have devised a new method to mea­sure the pres­ence of polyphe­nols in extra vir­gin olive oils in min­utes with­out a spe­cial­ized tech­ni­cian.

According to the researchers from the University of Teramo’s agri­cul­ture, bio­science, food and tech­nol­ogy depart­ment, com­monly used meth­ods require chem­i­cal sol­vents and sev­eral hours of work by trained tech­ni­cians.

Among the goals of this work is to make it eas­ier and faster to eval­u­ate the antiox­i­dant capac­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil,” study co-author Flavio Della Pelle told Olive Oil Times. At the same time, we aimed at mak­ing it more sus­tain­able, avoid­ing the use of sol­vents.”

See Also:Lab Test Would Define the Sensory Profile of Olive Oil by Analyzing Its Molecules

Current meth­ods require the tech­ni­cian to sam­ple the olive oil, treat the sam­ples for analy­sis and deter­mine the polyphe­nol capac­ity data.

Treating the sam­ples usu­ally requires methanol and hexane-based sol­vents, which are highly toxic, costly and require proper han­dling, stor­age and dis­posal.

The whole process hap­pens in a lab­o­ra­tory, and it can take hours, dur­ing which sev­eral tools are used,” Della Pelle said. We are try­ing to trans­fer the cur­rent cum­ber­some analy­sis to an easy-to-use piece of paper which also works as an extrac­tor.”

The lat­est method requires a portable laser sen­sor to read a specif­i­cally molded paper strip. The sam­ple ana­lyzed through the new tech­nique does not require any pre-treat­ment.

The device sim­pli­fies the oper­a­tions for mea­sur­ing polyphe­nols, includ­ing antiox­i­dants, reduc­ing a series of steps typ­i­cally deployed for such analy­sis to a sin­gle oper­a­tion. The results are obtained by cou­pling the device with a smart­phone. The lab-on-a-strip device cal­cu­lates the results within min­utes.

According to the study pub­lished in Food Chemistry, the results obtained by the new method are reli­able.

To ver­ify the process, we ana­lyzed the same olive oils with the usual tra­di­tional means of analy­sis,” Della Pelle said. The results show that the new method offers reli­able results.”

The researchers had access to an olive oil sam­ple data­bank that is con­stantly updated and offers a diverse array of oils from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and har­vests.

Using the new method is quite sim­ple and fol­lows a sim­ple pro­to­col,” Della Pelle said. It is way sim­pler than many com­mer­cial tools com­monly avail­able on the mar­ket.”

Given that, it would be inter­est­ing to develop soft­ware that could pro­vide an auto­matic read­ing of the results,” he added.

Another advan­tage of the new method is related to its man­u­fac­tur­ing process. All the device com­po­nents, includ­ing the sen­sor, have been man­u­fac­tured with office-grade mate­ri­als and acces­si­ble instru­ments which allow semi-auto­mated man­u­fac­tur­ing,” the researchers wrote.

We are also work­ing to remove plas­tics from the device and replace that with sus­tain­able mate­ri­als,” Della Pelle added.

The researcher aims to make the method avail­able through­out the olive oil pro­duc­tion sup­ply chain. The study is part of the Vitality Project funded by the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan, a project which includes sev­eral cen­tral Italian regions.

The goal of Vitality is to trans­fer the research and inno­va­tion results to the inter­ested sec­tors,” Delle Pelle said.

The gen­eral inter­est in antiox­i­dants and extra vir­gin olive oil is grow­ing, and we have been work­ing on both for many years,” he added. Polyphenols are cru­cial, not only because they impact the organolep­tic qual­i­ties of extra vir­gin olive oil but also because of their nutri­tional qual­i­ties.”

Along with their impact on fla­vor, polyphe­nols pre­serve extra vir­gin olive oil’s fatty acids, increas­ing its shelf life and nutri­tional qual­i­ties.

Given the cru­cial role exerted by polyphe­nols, researchers hope that in the future, their pres­ence in food prod­ucts will be mea­sured and reported to con­sumers.

Today, many pro­duc­ers tell their cus­tomers that their olive oil is rich in polyphe­nols as it is use­ful for con­sumers to know that polyphe­nols are there,” Delle Pelle said.

While many excel­lent olive oils might have a lower count of polyphe­nols, it would be cer­tainly inter­est­ing to know their exact vol­ume when their pres­ence is high, and it is des­tined to exert a rel­e­vant antiox­i­dant activ­ity,” he con­cluded.


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