On June 20th, the inter­na­tional jour­nal Food Additives & Contaminants pub­lished a sci­en­tific paper sub­mit­ted by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) regard­ing meth­ods the orga­ni­za­tion has been study­ing to aid in the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil from lesser qual­ity refined oils.

The meth­ods entail spik­ing sam­ples with “1,2‑bis-palmitoyl-3-chloropropanediol stan­dard for analy­sis using gas chro­mato­graph-tan­dem mass spec­trom­e­try.” After the reac­tion, researchers mea­sured the lev­els of 3‑MCPD esters in the sam­ples and found that the amount of these esters present in refined oils far exceeded those in extra vir­gin olive oil.

Taiwan FDA Director Liao Chia-ding, who worked on the study him­self, explained that oils typ­i­cally pro­duce these com­pounds as a result of deodor­iza­tion. EVOO, the­o­ret­i­cally, should pro­duce very small amounts, if any,

Researchers hope that ana­lyz­ing the lev­els of 3‑MCPD esters present in oils will be an effec­tive tool used to deter­mine the integrity of EVOO on the mar­ket, thus pre­vent­ing adul­ter­ation.

The study was con­ducted “in response to a slew of tainted oil inci­dents in 2014,” accord­ing to Liao. In addi­tion to pro­mot­ing food safety, the agency also hopes that the test­ing method will ensure oils live up to their price points.

Though the study boasts suc­cess in devel­op­ing these tests for use in dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, some enti­ties aren’t impressed with the results. In a state­ment pro­vided by the International Olive Council in response to the TFDA’s recent paper. the orga­ni­za­tion explained that it had already explored the test­ing meth­ods, and while they are indeed effec­tive in deter­min­ing oil’s integrity, the com­plex process requires the use of expen­sive equip­ment.

The IOC also said its stan­dards already con­tain effec­tive meth­ods to deter­mine refined oils, so the TFDA study “does not add much to what already exists.”

Wenceslao Moreda, an expert asso­ci­ated with the IOC, said, “Although we know that 3‑MCPD is formed in refined oils at the deodor­iza­tion stage (as a func­tion of tem­per­a­ture), it is not a para­me­ter that can be used for clas­si­fi­ca­tion, to dif­fer­en­ti­ate vir­gin olive oils from refined oils (olive and olive-pomace), mainly because they do not pro­vide an unam­bigu­ous para­me­ter, in so far as the type of refin­ing pro­ce­dure, the refin­ing con­di­tions and/​or the pres­ence of chlo­rine ions have a sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence on the pro­duc­tion of these com­pounds.”

Regardless, the IOC con­tin­ues to study the com­pound in order to decide whether or not these new devel­op­ments should be included in their Trade Standard. The orga­ni­za­tion notes that the com­pound is nev­er­the­less impor­tant, and the EU has actu­ally cre­ated a doc­u­ment request­ing coun­tries to pro­vide infor­ma­tion as to the pres­ence of 3‑MCPD esters in their oils.



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