Volatile Organic Compounds and Antioxidants in Olive Oil: Their Analysis by Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The application of Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT MS) to the analysis of olive oil shows several distinct advantages over more conventional analysis techniques. The two areas described in this thesis examining olive oil quality are the analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and the assessment of antioxidant activity. VOCs are responsible for the aroma and much of the taste of olive oil, while antioxidants afford some protection from harmful reactions involving radical species inside the body by scavenging radicals when olive oil is ingested. The VOCs of olive oil are used by sensory panel judges to classify oils by their degree of suitability for human consumption. The major parameters used for this evaluation are the strengths of any defects and the degree of fruitiness. A defect is an indication of an undesired process which has occurred in the oil, while fruitiness is a fragile attribute which denotes a good quality oil and is easily masked by defects. SIFT MS was used to measure the strengths of the olive oil defects rancid, winey, musty, fusty and muddy. Great potential was demonstrated for all defects except musty and the concentrations of VOCs in olive oil head space were correlated with the peroxide value, a measure of the degree of oil oxidation. A study aimed at correlating the strength of the fruitiness attribute as determined by a sensory panel with the concentrations of VOCs in olive oil head space was unsuccessful. The SIFT MS Total Oxyradical Scavenging Capacity (TOSC) assay was used to measure olive oil antioxidants. This assay measures all antioxidants in oil, not only those removed by extraction with a solvent, as it is conducted in an emulsion. SIFT MS TOSC assay results were found to correlate well with those of the widely used Folin Ciocalteu assay and the total concentration of phenolic compounds present in olive oil. Discrepancies between the two assays were most likely due to hydrophobic antioxidants which are measured by the SIFT MS TOSC assay but not the other tests.