New Testing Method Simplifies Elemental Analysis of EVOO Samples


Researchers in Italy have developed a new method to accurately identify 45 different chemical elements in extra virgin olive oil.

According to the paper published in the journal Food Chemistry, researchers identified the best approach to analyze each element and dramatically reduced the risks of faulty analysis due to sample manipulation (the physical movement of samples from one container to another) and dilution. 

The research also paves the way for new studies on the specific characteristics of each analyzed extra virgin olive oil, including the determination of geographical origin and anti-counterfeiting activities, among others.

Self-financed by a team of four Italian scientists, the new study evaluates how different sample pre-treatment methods can be applied to distinct elements, which is the best to use for each element and what outcome may be expected.

“The elemental content in olive oils is challenging to study,” Maria Luisa Astolfi, a researcher at the Sapienza University of Rome’s chemistry department and one of the authors of the study, told Olive Oil Times. “Their matrix is complex and characterized by high viscosity and organic content; moreover, some elements are present in extra virgin olive oils at very low concentration level.”

The scientists randomly chose 24 extra virgin olive oils from different brands and containers sold in several supermarkets in Rome for their experiments.

The researchers’ goal was to evaluate methods to detect known elements and explore extra virgin olive oil composition.

“We focused our research on looking for a very high number of elements within extra virgin olive oil,” Astolfi said. “Forty-five is a number that derives from previous studies and traditional content analysis. To those elements, we added the search for traces no one has ever looked for, to investigate their presence and their quantities.”

For this reason, the researchers compared different analytical approaches that allowed a more accurate evaluation of extra virgin olive oil composition.

By using ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry), researchers were able to achieve accurate and reproducible results with low detection limits for the analyzed trace elements.

At the same time, the use of this analytical technique and the research on how to apply it on extra virgin olive oil samples effectively led the researchers to reduce both sample dilution operations and manipulation. More

Read the entire Research paper, An Optimized Method for Sample Preparation and Elemental Analysis of Extra-virgin olive oil by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry here