Innovative Methodological Tools for Traceability, Certification and
Authenticity Assessment of Olive Oil and Olives
- Funded by: European Union and Greek national funds
- Project Acronym: ΕΛΑΙΩΝ
- Funded under: General Secretariat of Research and Innovation (GSRI) – RESEARCH-CREATE-INNOVATE
- Budget: 89997.50 € (Overall 961722.52 €)
- Start Date: 26th November 2020
- Duration: 30 months
The olive oil and the olive fruit constitute a dynamic and competitive business sector. Because of its high quality, reputation and price, the excellent greek olive oil has become the target for adulteration with cheaper vegetable oils. The current analytical methods cannot offer a reliable identification of the cultivar variety of olive oil and, quite often, they fail to detect adulteration, especially in cases in which the adulterant has a similar composition with olive oil. The hallmark of the present research proposal is an integrated system of innovative methodological tools for the traceability, certification and authenticity assessment of olive oil and edible olives. The system constitutes of three absolutely complementary and state-of-the art technologies, as follows:
- Molecular Traceability Tools. We will develop rapid DNA tests, in a dry-reagent strip format, for the molecular identification, by naked eye, of the varietal origin of olive oil and olive fruits. Also we will develop rapid DNA test strips for the determination of adulteration of olive oil with other vegetable oils as well as the adulteration of monovarietal oil with olive oils of other varieties. It should be emphasized that the DNA fingerprint is the only reliable marker for unequivocal identification of the botanical variety because it is not affected by the environmental and geographical conditions. The DNA fingerprint, by its own, offers an added value to the product. The proposed methodological tools combine unique advantages regarding the accuracy, simplicity, practicality, short times of analysis and low cost. Simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) will be exploited as specific markers, with a high discriminating power, for the reliable identification of the botanical origin of the products tested.
- Methodological tools for certifying the geographical origin of olive oil and olives by using mass spectrometry. Two methodological approaches will be implemented. One approach is based on the determination of natural isotopes that constitute the structural components of the biological compounds such as C, N, O, H and S (Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry, IRMS). The second methodology will identify new authenticity markers for olive oil and the edible olives using metabolomics and high-resolution mass spectrometry for the certification of the geographical origin. Since olive oil contains several compounds with the same molecular formula but different physicochemical properties, we will apply ion mobility mass spectrometry in combination with QTOFMS.
- Mobile phone application for the identification of olive fruit origin based on morphological characteristics. The first part involves the digital identification of greek varieties of edible olives based on the morphological characteristics of whole unprocessed fruits and the endocarps. Morphological analysis will be performed by digital photography and image analysis with state-of-the art algorithms. The outcome of this activity will be the construction of a ‘Phenomics Atlas’ for the greek olives. Subsequently, strong statistical tools and machine learning will be exploited in order to detect adulteration of edible olives. Finally, a smartphone app will be designed and implemented that enables real-time identification of the olive variety using as input digital photos of the sample.