Olive oil: understanding intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics and developing rapid and novel analytical techniques to identify adulteration.
Extra virgin or virgin olive oil ((E)VOO) has recently gained in popularity because of its quality, its potential health benefits derived from its consumption, and its strict purity control. The high price of (E)VOO and its reputation as a healthy and delectable oil makes it a preferred target for fraudsters. Fraud often takes place by the addition of lower quality olive oils and less expensive seed oils, especially refined oils, to (E)VOO for the purpose of financial gain. Moreover, since the chemical and physical properties of olive oil are affected by complex multivariate interactions, including cultivars, ripeness level, geographical origin, processing methods and storage condition, it is challenging to distinguish high quality olive oil from low quality olive oil. In order to sustain consumer confidence, provide them with correctly informed choices and protect legitimate businesses, there is an urgent need to elucidate the characteristics of different grades of olive oil and to develop approaches to identify (E)VOO adulteration depending on the special/unique properties of olive oils.