NEW YORK, May 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A new breakthrough methodology that assesses extra virgin olive oil's authenticity is gaining momentum in the field of nutrition and food science. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), has gained popularity attributable to its numerous health benefits due to its chemical composition and lower incidence of major chronic diseases. As a result, with an ever-increasing commercial value, EVOO is being processed to adulteration with seed oils, refined pomace, and other oils with serious damage to its quality and health benefits. Currently, there are no official scientific methods that certify the geographical origin of the product and authenticity.
The need for a scientific tool to assess EVOOs geographical origin is a growing concern since the implementation of the EU Regulation 182 of March 6, 2009 (on the compulsory labeling of EVOOs with the geographical origin of the olives in all European countries) still lacks an official validation methodology.
In the last three years, a joint research project aimed to set up an "NMR" (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) spectroscopy, is led by Professor Francesco Paolo Fanizzi from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technology (DiSTeBA), University of Salento in Lecce, Italy, and Certified Origins srl. What can Nuclear Magnetic Resonance do? Similar to an MRI, "images" or chemical profiles, were taken from samples of EVOO from different Southern Italian regions (essentially Apulia and Calabria – major Italian producer regions). The "images" made with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance were able to generate a profile and reference model for classification of monovarietal and blend EVOOs.
"A methodological approach to obtain an olive oil fingerprint, related not only to the chemical composition, but also to the used cultivars from specific geographical areas, could be useful to guarantee transparency and traceability," explains Fanizzi, who specializes in applications of NMR spectroscopy in the fields of agricultural, chemistry, biology, and pharmaceutical sciences.
With a recent surge in block chain technology making its way into the food industry, this NMR evaluation method could satisfy consumers' desire to validate the quality and origins of their food. The results delivered a favorable predictive power of the reference model, and as a result, make it a quick and reproducible method to check the label declaration on commercial EVOOs. It can pave the path to enforcing a higher standard in the olive oil industry that ensures authenticity, full transparency, and accurate traceability for consumer choices.
As a result of the rising costs of food globally, adulterations, not just in olive oil, cut across a wide range of categories and from all parts of the world. The complexity and scale of this fraud indicates that standardization, cooperation, and scientific implementation need to occur to protect the integrity of growers, suppliers, and consumers everywhere.
More information on the study and NMR method will be presented by Dr. Selina Wang, Ph.D, Chair of the University of California-Davis, Olive Center and Professor Fanizzi from DiSTeBA at the AOCS (American Oil Chemists Society) Annual Meeting & Expo, May 6-9, 2018.
For additional information on the NMR-based MVA method, please contact Professor Fanizzi at [email protected].