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Development and validation of the proposed methodology to verify vegetable oil species in mixtures of oil - FA0158

In 2011, the European Commission (EC) introduced new legislation for labelling of processed foods containing refined vegetable oils (EU Regulation 1169/2011). According to the legislation, prepacked food labels should demonstrate clearly in the list of ingredients the vegetable oil species used in the product. Currently there is no official or unofficial method that can be used to verify the labelling required under the proposed legislation and support its enforcement. In 2012, DEFRA funded a 1 year proof-of-concept research project (FAO117) with an aim to develop such methodology based on the proposal of this team (Queen’s University Belfast).

After a thorough literature review (Osorio et al. 2013), it was confirmed that only spectroscopic and chromatographic methods were able to tackle this problem although their application has never been attempted with the particular oil species. Through the course of that project, the team developed a procedure based on a fusion of spectroscopic and chromatographic methods for the analysis of binary blends of refined vegetable oils of interest with emphasis on palm oil and its fractions (stearin and olein).

The staged procedure consists of a screening step (infrared spectroscopy) and a confirmation step (chromatographic determination of fatty acids) coupled with an embedded decision making system. The procedure has demonstrated excellent results when validated with external authentic oil samples in a single lab validation (SLV) exercise. SOPs were produced for consideration by DEFRA. Several points have been raised for the extension of the method to foodstuffs with regards to reproducibility of the spectroscopic analysis, the number of reference oils and the overall robustness of the method. These issues will be addressed in this project.
The overall aim is to optimise and validate the developed oil speciation DEFRA method and SOPs in order to make them fit-for-purpose for supporting enforcement sustainable labelling of foodstuffs under the new EU Regulation.
The specific objectives of the proposed work are:
1. To set up an inter-laboratory trial with partners in the UK using different FTIR spectroscopy instruments to challenge test the SOP for this method for the oil blends trialled in project FA0117 and assess its fitness for purpose to support for law enforcment.
2. Expand vegetable oils reference database developed under project FA0117 to ensure it provides confidence in the method generated by the project.
3. Expand oil types subjected to analysis to include a limited number of other types such as coconut and soybean oil present in processed foods. This is essential due to the non-targeted nature of the method (see Task 3 below). Update calibration models and decision system to inmprove accurancy of the method.
4. Assess robustness of using the method to determine oil species in food matrices: case study with chocolate or pastry product.
5. Develop and validate the web tool used for data analysis.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : FINAL REPORT FA0158   (5748k)
• SUP - Supplementary Report : FA0158 SOP   (1801k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2014

To: 2016

Cost: £107,102
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Queen’s University