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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Fats and Oils: Improved Tools for the Analytical Chemist

Authors
item King, Jerry
item Eller, Fred

Submitted to: Food Testing and Analysis
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The determination of the fat content of foods is of high importance to both the consumer and producer of such products. Although fat or oil may be perceived as a simply substance by the consumer, it is in reality a complex mixture of naturally derived material that requires a refined analysis to evaluate its nutritive value. Time honored methods of determining the fat content in foods are being replaced by more sophisticated methodology and methods that are compatible with the environment. Such methods avoid the use of hazardous chemical solvents and are much more rapid and precise than classical methods. Newer analytical methodology also permits the type of fat or lipid substance to be specifically identified, including the fat/ oil content of fish oils, fat substitutes, and nutraceuticals. The implications of this sophisticated analysis methodology is to provide more accurate assessment of the types of fat or lipid material being consumed by ythe public, as well as to aid the food industry in establishing standard methodology that is more accurate and precise.

Technical Abstract: The National Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990 has required the development of new analytical approaches for the analysis of fat/oil content of food. In addition, new analytical standards in support of these analyses have been developed, particularly with respect to fatty acid content. Additional legislation involving the reduction of solvents has also impacted on how the analytical chemist conducts nutritional analysis. Supercritical extraction using carbon dioxide as an environmentally benign extraction fluid has become more popular resulting in new methods which must be standardized and corroborated among analysts. This has resulted in standards being propagated for fat constituents, such as trans fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids. Many of these components are present in reference material available from professional societies to verify the contents of these standard reference materials, thereby harmonizing the resultant methodology. Chromatographic analysis of fatty acid methyl este derivatives is playing a key role in more accurately defining the fat content of foodstuffs, and the required columns for separating the fatty acids in a fat containing sample are commercially available to assist the analyst in performing this task.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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