Scientists have identified key signs that can help professional retail buyers choose authentic products.
Recently, avocado oil has gained popularity for its heart-protective properties and diverse culinary applications. However, the quality of avocado oil products available in the market varies widely. Some items that are advertised as “pure” avocado oil, often include other oils or additives. Unfortunately, to date, there are no strict regulations defining the chemical and physical properties of avocado oil.
A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis, analyzed 36 private label avocado oil products, evaluating them for their purity and quality. These private label products are usually manufactured by an outside company but marketed under the brand of a grocery store or retailer.
Their findings, published in the journal Food controlOf the samples tested, 31% were found to be pure, and 36% were of advertised quality. Quality refers to whether the oil is fresh or has gone bad from aging, heat, or exposure to light. For purity, the researchers measured the fatty acids, sterols, and other components that distinguish avocado oil from other oils.
The study involved oils purchased from 19 retailers in the United States and Canada at different price points. They found that lower-calorie oils were more likely to be contaminated by other oils.
“We found that low-cost products indicate a greater likelihood of adulteration, but a higher cost does not guarantee purity or quality,” said Selina Wang, assistant professor of cooperative extension in the Department of Food Science and Technology. She and Hilary Green, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, co-authored the paper.
The researchers also identified specific chemical markers in avocado oil that professional retail buyers can use to make more informed decisions when it comes to selecting suppliers. In this way, consumers can feel confident about the products they are purchasing.
This is the second comprehensive study conducted by UC Davis researchers on the quality of avocado oil sold in the United States. The first study, released in 2020, found that many test samples were of poor quality, mislabeled, or adulterated with other oils.
“This study shows that although progress has been made in developing standards since the first market study in 2020, there are still issues with the purity of avocado oil and these issues extend significantly to private label oils,” said Wang.
Avocado oil standards
Since the release of the first UC Davis study, Wang said there has been a concerted effort by researchers, industry leaders, and government agencies to create actionable standards. The Avocado Oil Expert Group was formed in collaboration with the American Society of Petroleum Chemists to discuss potential standards and future research projects.
Wang’s research group studies how natural factors such as different avocado varieties, harvest times, geographic origins, and processing methods can affect the chemical composition of avocado oil. They want to create standards that accommodate natural differences while detecting any cheating.
Wang hopes the results of the study will contribute to setting standards that will benefit consumers and producers of avocado oil who want to compete in a fair market.
“I am very optimistic about the future of the avocado oil industry,” Wang said. “It is a high-value product with high consumer demand, similar to what I saw with olive oil 10 years ago. The quality and purity of olive oil has improved dramatically, and this is where I see avocado oil used, if we can set fair standards and eliminate fraudulent products.” .
Reference: “Purity and Quality of Private Label Avocado Oil” by Hilary S. Green and Selina C. Wang, May 8, 2023, Available here. Food control.
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