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A device for predicting oxidation and shelf-life of oil and foods with lipids

The CSIC has developed a portable device to assay oxidation of oil and other foods with lipids. It enables producers to simulate the process of food oxidation in virtually real conditions, therefore emulating transport and storage environment. Now, scientists are seeking for agro-food companies interested in the development.

The first prototype, sized about 50 centimeters.Not all oils last the same when they are in the shops or when they are transported for exportation. Similarly, foods with lipids have different shelf-life depending on many factors, and some food products will get rancid sooner than others. These are products that can last for a long time, but depending on the environmental conditions of distribution, storage and display, this time can change.

A team from the CSIC’s Instituto de la Grasa have develop a method to find out the oxidative stability of oil in almost real conditions. The scientists Noelia Tena, Ramón Aparicio and Diego L. Garcia González have created a method and a prototype, pictured in the photo, that enables emulating the environment where a food product will be during its shelf-life. It emulates environmental factors which affect food preservation such as light, temperature, oxygen or humidity.

A prominent characteristic of the method is that reproduces moderate environmental factors, which are more realistic than the factors used by Rancimat method. The second one, the most common method nowadays for testing food preservation, exposes food samples to very extreme conditions which are very uncommon in real-life storage.   

The device doesn’t use UV light but white light to simulate degradation by photo-oxidation, a process the food product can suffer when it is in transparent containers and exposed to the light in the supermarkets.

It simulates a realistic environment where different factors can be freely changed, until details such as the beam angle or the amount of oxygen in the environment.

The new device can simulate a realistic environment where different factors can be freely changed, until details such as the beam angle or the amount of oxygen. It is thermally isolated. Also, it makes possible to assess how packaging materials will affect on food preservation, which makes this method a helpful tool for choosing the best package for every product.

The first prototype has a design and dimensions (about 50 centimeters) suitable for placing it in any laboratory bench. Nevertheless, size and design can be adjusted depending on other factors.

It can simultaneously analyse several samples (it is enough with a drop for every sample) and the assays can last up to a month. After a maximum of a month, the results make possible determining and predicting the oxidative stability of the food, and therefore predicting their shelf-life.

The obtained data are essential not only for the storage, but also in the cases where a long journey is planned, like oil exportation to other continents. Annually, Spanish producers export millions of tons of olive oil. According to figures from the Spanish Agriculture Ministry, along the 2017/18 season, around 1.256.900 tonnes of olive oil were produced, from which around 800.000 tonnes were exported.

Contact:

Chelo Quilchano Gonzalo
Deputy Vice-Presidency for
Knowledge Transfer - CSIC

Tel.: 954 61 15 50
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The CSIC has developed a portable device to assay oxidation of oil and other foods with lipids. It enables producers to simulate the process of food oxidation in virtually real conditions, therefore emulating transport and storage environment. Now, scientists are looking food companies interested in the development.