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Gas Chromatography Used in Vegetable Oil Analysis

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GC/MS Application Examples: Oil Analysis

Two key examples of GC/MS applied in oil analysis is identifying the differences between oils and determining if any differences will make an impact and food safety and quality. Learn about two GC/MS case studies that uncovered key information about oil products in order to help make important business decisions.

Learn more about how this works with an overview of GC/MS Analysis including how it's used and an outline of the process.

Case 1: Negative Impact on Food Prep and/or Food

A food service vendor wanted to know whether a new vegetable oil was similar to the vegetable oil that they had used in the past. Vegetable oil analysis was conducted using gas chromatography mass spectrometry, or GC/MS analysis. Gas chromatography testing resulted in a gas chromatogram of the new vegetable oil (bottom figure) and the reference vegetable oil (top figure), shown below.

As seen in the figure below, the reference vegetable oil contains palmitic acid (retention time of 19.00 min), linoleic acid (retention time of 20.6 min), oleic acid (retention time of 20.7 min), and stearic acid (retention time of 20.9 min) which are not found in the new vegetable oil. Differences between the two cooking oils could potentially impact the food preparation process or the food itself.

GC/MS Testing Chromatograms Comparing Two Different Vegetable Oils

Case 2: New Oil at a Lower Cost

A food service vendor was considering using a new vegetable oil in their processing. Needing to discover if this new oil had any similarities to the vegetable oil that they had used for a number of years, they contacted us to perform the analysis. The ideal test for this comparison is gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS analysis).

GC/MS analysis separates the chemical constituents of a sample, producing a spectral output.  Our technician injects the sample into the injection port of the GC/MS instrument.  Vaporizing the sample, the GC/MS instrument then separates and analyzes the various components.  Each of the components will create a peak at a specific retention time that is recorded on the chromatogram.

According to Chin-Kai Meng, PhD, Senior Applications Chemist at Agilent Technologies, GC/MS analysis is often used to analyze fruit and vegetable extracts and to confirm the identity of compounds detected in complex mixtures.

Blind Test Picks Winner

In this test, each of the oils was analyzed by direct injection using GC/MS analysis, resulting in a gas chromatogram of the new vegetable oil and then reference vegetable oil. The reference vegetable oil contained additives of palmitic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid and stearic acid which were not found in the new vegetable oil.

The presence of palmitic acid, a saturated fatty acid, tends to raise LDL-cholesterol. As we all know by now, intake of dietary fatty acids can have a strong influence on overall health, so changing to different oil could prove to position their food processing as a new and improved "healthy" alternative. Stearic acid is neutral, but oils high in oleic acid prove challenging for oxidative stability and nutritional quality as well.

After our GC/MS analysis we recommended switching to the new oil as the cost benefits of a longer shelf life combined with better nutritional value pointed to the new oil as being superior to their current vegetable oil.

Contact our highly trained analysts to discuss your gas chromatography and vegetable oil analysis needs.