`Scientists Pool Expertise in Fight Against Fake Olive Oils - Olive Oil Times

Scientists Pool Expertise in Fight Against Fake Olive Oils

By Julie Butler
Oct. 4, 2013 10:19 UTC

world-scientists-pool-expertise-in-fight-against-fake-olive-oils-olive-oil-times-scientists-pool-expertise-in-fight-on-fake-olive-oilsExperts from around the world attended the Workshop on Olive Oil Authentication. See the list of par­tic­i­pants here.

More than twenty of the world’s experts on olive oil ver­i­fi­ca­tion met ear­lier this year, and a recent sum­mary of their brain­storm­ing pro­vides an illu­mi­nat­ing update on olive oil fraud and pos­si­ble solu­tions.

Easy to adul­ter­ate while still stay­ing within the European olive oil stan­dard.- Christian Gertz

That there is a prob­lem was not in dis­pute. Figures released at the Workshop on Olive Oil Authentication, held in Madrid June 10 – 11, show that one in four olive oils sam­pled in Spain, and nearly one in three in Canada, failed recent offi­cial fraud tests.

A newslet­ter on the work­shop — released this week by joint hosts the European Commission and the International Olive Council (IOC) — states at the out­set that solu­tions have yet to be found for three prob­lems in par­tic­u­lar: the blend­ing of extra vir­gin olive oil or vir­gin olive oil with soft deodor­ized olive oil, or with other adul­ter­ant oils, and the eval­u­a­tion of qual­ity para­me­ters related to fresh­ness.

Scientific knowl­edge of olive oil chem­istry and tech­nol­ogy lags behind the inven­tive­ness of cer­tain oper­a­tors,” it says.

And in a sep­a­rate doc­u­ment with pre­sen­ta­tions from the work­shop, Christian Gertz, of the German Society for Fat Science (DGF), said it is cur­rently easy” to adul­ter­ate with low-grade olive oils or for­eign oils while still stay­ing within the phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal prop­erty lim­its of the European olive oil stan­dard.

Possible solu­tions: (NIR) spec­troscopy and DNA mark­ers

The work­shop eval­u­ated cur­rent meth­ods for mon­i­tor­ing olive oil authen­tic­ity as well as alter­na­tives that could help meet the need for tests that are faster, cheaper, more robust and accepted world­wide.”

Among the many state-of-the-art options dis­cussed was near-infrared (NIR) spec­troscopy, a quick, easy, cheap” method Gertz pre­dicted would become, a dom­i­nant ana­lyt­i­cal tool for rou­tine and real-time food safety and qual­ity con­trols.”

The attrac­tive­ness of DNA-based meth­ods was also dis­cussed, par­tic­u­larly regard­ing the detec­tion of the adul­ter­ation of vir­gin olive oil with other veg­etable oils, and also the poten­tial for an iden­tity card” for pre­mium olive oils.

The com­plete sequence of the olive genome that will be shortly avail­able will pro­vide genomic infor­ma­tion for devel­op­ing more effi­cient DNA mark­ers,” the newslet­ter said.

Pigments and other pos­si­ble para­me­ters

Australian Oils Research’s Rodney Mailer told the work­shop that two new meth­ods of fraud detec­tion, DAGs (dia­cyl­glyc­erols) and PPPs (which mea­sures degra­da­tion of olive oil’s chloro­phyll pig­ment to pyropheo­phytin), have shown con­sid­er­able promise in deter­min­ing oils which are old, have been poorly stored or pos­si­bly refined. Some orga­ni­za­tions have resisted inves­ti­ga­tion of these meth­ods despite the evi­dence,” he said.

But Lanfranco Conte, from Italy’s University of Udine, dis­cussing the chal­lenges of detect­ing adul­ter­ation with soft deodor­ized olive oils, said that DAGs and PPPs had lim­i­ta­tions in this area as both are strongly influ­enced by stor­age time and con­di­tions.


However, sum­ming up the experts’ views dur­ing later dis­cus­sions on research on olive oil pig­ments — mainly chloro­phyll and carotenoids — the newslet­ter said that despite their sen­si­tiv­ity to light, tem­per­a­ture or oil age­ing, these had var­i­ous strong points which should be taken into account.

Participants high­lighted the needs of ref­er­ence mate­ri­als for chloro­phyll a and β‑carotene and of sup­port from the IOC and JRC (European Commission Joint Research Centre) to coor­di­nate ring tests for method validations.The objec­tives could be reached within a nearly three years period of research.”


Complementing the panel test

Chemical tests don’t inform about aroma or taste, hence the need for the panel test, but the work­shop heard that the steady increase in olive oil con­sump­tion requires an increased num­ber of well-trained sen­sory pan­els, which are costly to main­tain.”

New devices (such as elec­tronic noses and tongues) and ana­lyt­i­cal meth­ods (such as dynamic head-space and solid phase micro extrac­tion analy­sis) capa­ble of using the same com­pounds — volatiles — as human sen­sors could lessen the work of sen­sory pan­els”.

Challenges and rec­om­men­da­tions

The work­shop par­tic­i­pants also iden­ti­fied var­i­ous obsta­cles to progress in the fight against fake olive oils. These include poor knowl­edge of the deodor­iza­tion processes used in the indus­try and lack of access to rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ples of soft deodor­ized olive oil, such as to help train sen­sory pan­els.

Among other mea­sures, they sug­gested cre­at­ing an indus­trial plant to pro­duce a range of sam­ples of soft deodor­ized oils.

Regarding cur­rent stan­dards, par­tic­i­pants said exist­ing lim­its for FFAs (free fatty acids) and UV (ultra-vio­let) should be reduced and total amounts of ery­thro­diol and uvaol should be cal­cu­lated instead of a per­cent­age of total sterols,” the newslet­ter also said.

Official fraud test results in Spain

Juan Ramón Izquierdo, from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment’s olive oil tast­ing panel, and Angela Sheridan, from the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency, shared results of olive oil ver­i­fi­ca­tion tests in their respec­tive coun­tries.

There were 770 inspec­tions in Spain in 2012 and a 23 per­cent non-com­pli­ancy rate, accord­ing to Izquierdo, who said nearly half of the vio­la­tions of applic­a­ble stan­dards related to qual­ity and purity.

Those regard­ing qual­ity are basi­cally related to the organolep­tic qual­ity of vir­gin olive oils. Basically they con­sist of pack­ing lower qual­ity oils as extra vir­gin oils.” But lam­pante oils were also found, he said.

Nearly a third of the vio­la­tions related to prod­uct label­ing, four per­cent to trace­abil­ity, and the rest involved other breaches.

As for the label­ing breaches, these were mainly due to mis­use of the legal def­i­n­i­tions in EU reg­u­la­tion 29/2012 on mar­ket­ing stan­dards for olive oil, par­tic­u­larly the need to include on prod­ucts of the olive oil” cat­e­gory the sen­tence: oil com­pris­ing exclu­sively olive oils that have under­gone refin­ing and oils obtained directly from olives.”

According to Izquierdo, this sen­tence is not used by the packer on many occa­sions.”

He said that while the meth­ods required by cur­rent EU reg­u­la­tions are suf­fi­cient for detect­ing the more com­mon frauds in olive oil purity, there are other types of fraud, includ­ing the use of deodor­ized oils, for which the cur­rent method­ol­ogy seems to be insuf­fi­cient.”

Canada: adul­ter­ation on rise again

Meanwhile, nearly a third of all olive oil sam­ples tested in 2012/13 by the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency were found unsat­is­fac­tory. Those rated unsat­is­fac­tory have a high cer­tainty of adul­ter­ation, accord­ing to Sheridan’s work­shop pre­sen­ta­tion.

Common adul­ter­ants found were veg­etable oil (canola, sun­flower and soy­bean oils), refined olive oil, and olive pomace oil.

Nearly half of all sam­ples tested in 2006/07 rated unsat­is­fac­tory. The per­cent of non-com­pli­ant sam­ples then fell steady, reach­ing 11 per­cent in 2009/10, but rose to just over 30 per­cent in 2010/11 and again in 2012/13.

Since 2007, fines total­ing $250,000 (US$242,000) have been issued and oil worth $500,000 (US$485,000) ordered destroyed.

Horizon 2020 research project planned

The pri­or­ity areas iden­ti­fied in the work­shop are now being used to pre­pare a call for a research project on olive oil authen­ti­ca­tion set to be included in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research pro­gram due to be launched by late 2013/early 2014.

Access the work­shop pre­sen­ta­tions, posters, list of par­tic­i­pants, and newslet­ter here.


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