The adulteration of olive oil with the cheaper hazelnut oil is a potentially large problem in the EU. Currently there are no analytical methods to quantify the presence of hazelnut oil in olive oil. This is due in part to the similar chemical composition of the major and some minor components found in hazelnut oil and olive oil. This study aims to test and validate both traditional chemical techniques and new isotopic methods for detecting and quantifying hazelnut adulteration.
<ul><li>The study will begin by producing a range of standards of known composition. These standards will include admixtures of refined hazelnut oil in olive oil and pressed hazelnut oil in virgin olive oil.
<li>The oil will then be characterised using two types of techniques. Classical techniques such as gas chromatography, which will produce information on the triacylglycerides, sterol esters and diterpenic esters.
<li>Isotopic methods such as isotopic ratio mass spectroscopy (IRMS), deuterium SNIF-NMR (Site Specific Natural Isotopic Fractionation). Along with other state of the art techniques like Ft-Raman, GC-MS, LC GC will be used to build a profile of the chemical composition of the sample oils.
<li>These methods will then be validated and assessed as to their effectiveness at detecting hazelnut adulteration at low levels. The results will then be used to produce a database of the chemical characteristics of the oils. It is hoped that protocols that result from this study, could be used by regulators to detect adulterated olive oils.</ul>
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.