Do you know, in 2015, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) confiscated large quantities of contaminated palm oil from ten major markets in Accra and Tema? Each year many such high-profile cases of palm oil adulteration come forth and shock us. Adulteration in palm oil has always been a major issue faced by countries globally. Harmful substances like rancid oil, activated red dye, etc. are widely used as adulterants in RBD palm oil to enhance and maintain palm oil’s color, which degrades its quality immensely. Also, mixing of animal fats, especially enzymatically-randomized lard (ERLD) has become a major concern for many religions.
RBD palm olein is a bleached, refined and deodorized form of oil obtained by the fractionation of palm oil, following a process of crystallization at controlled temperatures. It is one of the most suitable vegetable oil for cooking. The oil quality and stability are dominant factors that influence its acceptability and market value. Seeing the growing rate of vegetable oil adulteration, keeping a quality check from manufacturing, packaging to distribution has become very imperative.
Adulterated oil can cause cancer, stomach problems, epidemic dropsy, heart and liver diseases and even, loss of eyesight. Therefore, several methods have been proposed over the years to evaluate the quality and stability of vegetable oils. However, we notice that no method has been quick, qualitative and quantitative enough to match the complex competitive environment of today.
The invention of electronic noses has brought some change and rendered an effective medium to achieve the demand of the hour. California-based Electronic Sensor Technology’s electronic nose called zNose® is rapid, simple and easy-to-handle. It is a vapor analyzer, capable of recognizing and quantifying many different complex fragrances, using a visual fragrance pattern, called a VaporPrint™, surface acoustic wave (SAW) detector and ultra-fast gas chromatography. It is a fast method to identify and quantify the quality of RBD palm olein and monitor its storage stability.
To check the efficiency of zNose®, a descriptive test was carried out through sensory analysis by ten trained panelists. Also, the storage stability of RBD palm olein was monitored using a surface acoustic wave (SAW) detectors and ultra-fast gas chromatography. zNose® efficiently quantified the oil samples and identified the characteristics of fresh and rancid RBD palm olein. It also successfully identified the changes in Peroxide Value (PV) and Free Fatty Acids (FFA).
Hence, zNose® has immense potential to be a one-stop solution to fight oil adulteration. Oil manufacturing and distributing companies can also invest their time, money, and trust on the proficiency of zNose® without any skepticism. It detects and measures the unwanted compounds that degrades the quality of palm oil and other food and beverage items with accuracy, precision and speed. Thus, giving customers a safe and sound vegetable oil for cooking.