`How Packaging Influences Olive Oil Quality

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How Packaging Influences Olive Oil Quality

Aug. 25, 2014
Danielle Putier

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Olive oil qual­ity and its cor­re­spond­ing nutri­tional value are mon­i­tored by most pro­duc­ers through­out the entire pro­duc­tion process. But in a report released by the UC Davis Olive Oil Cen­ter, not only does the chem­istry inside the bot­tle mat­ter, but pack­ag­ing weighs in too.

The report is a sum­mary of over ten years of com­mer­cial pack­ag­ing lit­er­a­ture and com­pares key com­po­nents of com­mer­cial oil con­tain­ers includ­ing: dura­bil­ity, effect on shelf life, and the reten­tion of essen­tial nutri­ents in glass, alu­minum, tin­plate cans, stain­less steel, plas­tic, coated paper­board, and bag-in-box con­tain­ers.

Phe­no­lic lev­els nat­u­rally pro­tect an olive oils’ longevity, how­ever, mois­ture, oxy­gen, trace met­als, and fatty acids pro­mote oxi­da­tion and there­fore limit shelf life. Accord­ing to the review, to max­i­mize shelf sta­bil­ity the ideal pack­ag­ing mate­r­ial would pre­vent light and air pen­e­tra­tion, and oils would be stored in the dark at 16 – 18°C (61 – 64°F).”

So what is the best light- and air-block­ing con­tainer? UC Davis reports the most effec­tive pack­ing to be dark glass, stain­less steel, coated paper­board and bag-in-box. Clear glass does not com­pletely pre­vent photo oxi­da­tion with­out a full-body label or addi­tional cov­er­ing. Plas­tic con­tain­ers are too porous to pro­vide ade­quate pro­tec­tion from light, heat, or mois­ture; addi­tion­ally, small mol­e­cules in plas­tics can leak into the oil fur­ther dimin­ish­ing its qual­ity. More research should be done to sup­port to use of alu­minum with food-grade coat­ing, tin­plate cans, and bag-in-box con­tain­ers with dif­fer­ent types of bags.

Most sup­pli­ers con­tinue to use glass con­tain­ers because of con­sumer pref­er­ence, how­ever coated paper­board is becom­ing more widely seen. Advan­tages to coated paper­board, accord­ing to Food Ser­vice Daily is the coast-effec­tive, light­weight ease of trans­port in addi­tion to block­ing light and mois­ture. George Eliadis recently told Food Pro­duc­tion Daily, cus­tomers say they pre­fer to be able to see the olive oil but car­tons are cheaper, don’t break, aren’t heavy and keep oil fresher longer because light can’t get in.”

As con­sumers become more knowl­edge­able about what’s in a bot­tle of olive oil, per­haps the shift in pack­ag­ing will fol­low. In a recent pre­sen­ta­tion, Lean­dro Ravetti, tech­ni­cal direc­tor at Bound­ary Bend Ltd., Australia’s largest olive oil pro­ducer and mar­keter, shared the exam­ple of clear glass out­selling green glass 20 to 1 in his native Argentina twenty years ago — because con­sumers wanted to see what they were buy­ing — while today in Aus­tralia it’s the oppo­site, because there is more aware­ness of how light degrades olive oil.”


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