FDA develops method to identify olive oil types

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jun 16, 2017 - Page 4

A paper submitted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the international scientific journal Food Additives & Contaminants is expected to offer a new methodology to discern the difference between extra virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, further safeguarding national food safety, the agency said.

The process involves spiking samples of olive oil with 1,2-bis-palmitoyl-3-chloropropanediol, followed by analysis by a gas chromatography tandem mass spectrometer, the agency said.

FDA Section Chief Liao Chia-ding (廖家鼎), a contributing author of the article, said that oils usually produce high amounts of 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) after being submitted to deodorization.

Extra virgin olive oil, which is cold pressed, should theoretically not produce any, or very minor, amounts of 3-MCPD, Liao said.

The paper said that 3-MCPD in samples of refined olive oil ranged from 0.97 to 20.53 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), far in excess of 3-MCPD levels in extra virgin olive oil, which ranged from undetected to 0.24mg/kg.

The agency developed the method in response to a slew of tainted oil incidents in 2014, Liao said.

The method would help ensure that products live up to their prices, which vary between five and 10 times for high-grade extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil and olive pomace oil, he added.

“We hope to use this method to conduct product testing,” Liao said, adding that it would contribute to the safeguarding of the nation’s food safety.