`Oleum Develops New Tools for EVOO Analysis, Authentication - Olive Oil Times

Oleum Develops New Tools for EVOO Analysis, Authentication

By Paolo DeAndreis
Mar. 9, 2021 12:34 UTC

The Oleum Project has devel­oped a new set of tools for the analy­sis and the authen­ti­ca­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil.

Experts from the European Union-funded orga­ni­za­tion told Olive Oil Times they expect the project to set new stan­dards in com­bat­ing olive oil fraud and assess­ing qual­ity, among other goals.

This is an ade­quate plat­form to be imple­mented along­side the sen­sory panel in olive oil clas­si­fi­ca­tion oper­a­tions.- Anna Cane, pres­i­dent, Assitol

According to the project coor­di­na­tors, the group has already reported their find­ings to the International Olive Council and is dis­cussing their poten­tial impacts on extra vir­gin olive oil cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and prod­uct assess­ment.

Oleum has devel­oped inno­v­a­tive solu­tions and per­fected exist­ing tech­niques to ver­ify bet­ter that the qual­ity of the olive oil is con­sis­tent with what is declared by the pro­duc­ers, thus unmask­ing ille­gal blends and other fraud­u­lent prac­tices,” said Tullia Gallina Toschi, a pro­fes­sor of food sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy at the University of Bologna and coor­di­na­tor of the research group. “[The project is] also pro­vid­ing inno­v­a­tive tools for the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of geo­graph­i­cal ori­gin.”

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

Among the most promis­ing tech­niques was a chro­mato­graphic method, which iden­ti­fies volatile com­pounds in the upper por­tion of an olive oil sam­ple.

The method returns a sta­tis­ti­cal value based on the volatile com­pounds and deter­mines whether the olive oil meets the stan­dards set for extra vir­gin, vir­gin or lam­pante.

The detec­tion iden­ti­fies the volatile com­pounds and deter­mines their mass. It requires no spe­cial high-res­o­lu­tion tech­nolo­gies, which means it has a low cost and is a promis­ing option for wide­spread adop­tion among olive oil com­pa­nies.

This method returns a spe­cific heat map that in the future we could develop as an image,” Gallina Toschi told Olive Oil Times. It is a bi-dimen­sional pro­file that rep­re­sents the com­plex­ity of the volatile com­pounds in the sam­ple. The elab­o­ra­tion of those maps can lead to olive oil clas­si­fi­ca­tion in the three dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories.”

Along with accu­rately deter­min­ing olive oil qual­ity, Gallina Toschi believes that the tools being devel­oped by the Oleum Project could also help pro­duc­ers con­sis­tently cre­ate a uni­form blend of dif­fer­ent olive oils.

When we blend olive oil, we smell and eval­u­ate the bou­quet of the volatile com­pounds,” she said. An analy­sis of the volatile frac­tion or its screen­ing may pro­vide an unam­bigu­ous char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of a spe­cific prod­uct.”

With ded­i­cated tools, the pro­ducer could choose to pro­duce a blended extra vir­gin olive oil with spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics while also being able to repli­cate it over time,” Gallina Toschi added.

Beyond help­ing pro­duc­ers, Gallina Toschi said that the new tools might also impact extra vir­gin olive oil ship­ping and the prod­ucts’ shelf-life.

If an olive oil arrives at its des­ti­na­tion and no longer meets the stan­dards of extra vir­gin,” Gallina Toschi said the tech­nol­ogy could be used to deter­mine what went wrong dur­ing the ship­ping process.

Through the analy­sis of the volatile frac­tion of the prod­uct, it is pos­si­ble to under­stand what has gone wrong, what specif­i­cally has caused the defect,” she said. By com­par­ing the sam­ples before and after ship­ping, we could end up with a tool to guar­an­tee the qual­ity of the prod­uct when it arrives at the super­mar­ket, and a tool to track it over time.”

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

According to Assitol, the Italian asso­ci­a­tion of olive oil pro­duc­ers, the Oleum Project’s tools to ana­lyze the volatile com­pounds have already shown excel­lent results. The asso­ci­a­tion and its indus­trial part­ners formed a ded­i­cated task force to test the effi­ciency of the detec­tors.

We tried to apply this tool to the daily activ­ity of the sec­tor and now we have no doubts: at the moment, this is an ade­quate plat­form to be imple­mented along­side the sen­sory panel in olive oil clas­si­fi­ca­tion oper­a­tions,” said Anna Cane, the pres­i­dent of Assitol. We must now accel­er­ate the process to have that method val­i­dated and approved.”


This tool has shown to be very use­ful because it is capa­ble of iden­ti­fy­ing hun­dreds of mol­e­cules respon­si­ble for the sen­so­r­ial pro­file of the olive oil,” she added. The sen­sory panel remains essen­tial, but with this new ally, it can become even stronger and more effi­cient for extra vir­gin olive oil qual­ity con­trol.”

Another of the four-year project’s main achieve­ments is the Oleum Databank, which includes the research find­ings on Oleum-val­i­dated meth­ods and serves as a reli­able ref­er­ence for the olive oil sec­tor stake­hold­ers and gen­eral pub­lic.

Oleum Project sci­en­tists told a recent con­fer­ence that the need for new meth­ods to iden­tify fraud while pro­mot­ing qual­ity and extra vir­gin olive oil authen­tic­ity is grow­ing within the European Union.

E.U. mem­bers account for 70 per­cent of world­wide olive oil pro­duc­tion, but extra‑E.U. com­pe­ti­tion is grow­ing, a sce­nario that makes assess­ing qual­ity and cer­ti­fy­ing extra vir­gin olive oil prod­ucts cru­cial to all involved par­ties and con­sumers.

The high price of olive oil, its dis­tinc­tive sen­sory pro­file and rep­u­ta­tion as a healthy source of dietary fats make it a tar­get for adul­ter­ation, ille­gal blend­ing with other veg­etable oils or delib­er­ate mis­la­belling of less expen­sive classes of olive oil,” the researchers at the Oleum Project said. As a result, olive oil adul­ter­ation for finan­cial gain has become one of the biggest sources of agri­cul­tural fraud in the E.U.”

We expect that the new meth­ods will impact the qual­ity con­trol tech­niques in the next 10 to 15 years,” Gallina Toschi said. We expect a global impact in a few years. The whole indus­try is look­ing to the E.U. Oleum Project.”


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