Olive oil is a sought after commodity. It is popular due to both its favorable organoleptic properties as well as functionality. Olives are not a crop that is easily grown anywhere, and so there are limits to global production. It’s popularity and limited volumes welcome a better price than other oils. This price and popularity have resulted in adulteration, usually with soybean oil, to occur.
To avoid adulterated product tests can be undertaken to determine the purity of the olive oil. A method using Direct Sample Analysis (DSA) Time of Flight (TOF) spectrometry has been developed for this purpose. DSA means just that no sample preparation is required. The oil for analysis is applied directly into the apparatus. TOF is similar to traditional Mass Spectrometry except that ion separation isn’t induced by electromagnets, but rather the sample is sprayed as an aerosol and ions are separated by their velocity due to their mass to charge ratio. In oil samples, spectrometry provides a fatty acids profile of the sample. The International Olive Council (IOC) has a standard for what the fatty acid composition of olive oil should be. Olive oil has high levels of oleic acid rather than that of linoleic acid in other oils, like soybean. By comparing the ratio of these fatty acids, even low levels of adulteration can be determined.