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Preliminary study on the application of an electric field as a method of preservation for virgin olive oil/Estudo preliminar de uma aplicacao de campo eletrico como um metodo de conservacao de azeite virgem.


The olives and olive oil are the primary sources of dietary lipid Mediterranean; these foods are rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid (Alarcon-de-la-Lastra, Barranco, Motilva, & Herrerias, 2001). The fatty acid has a positive effect on the heart and against cancer (Alonso, Ruiz-Gutierrez, & Martinez-Gonzalez, 2005). However, one of the problems in the use of olive products is the rapid oxidation of the unsaturated fatty acids that containing. This kind of spoilage affects the shelf life of olive products and their nutritional quality; moreover, it may be a risk for the health of consumers (Alarcon-de-la-Lastra et al., 2001). The techniques collectively known as electrotechnologies may have a solution to this problem by providing non-thermal preservation treatment. As a result of the interaction between vegetable tissues in a liquid environment with electric field, deleterious enzymes and microorganisms in food products are inactivated. There are reported that the products has a fresher taste and no loss of nutrients (Espachs-Barroso, Barbosa-Canovas, & Martin-Belloso, 2003).

Electrotechnologies can be classified as electroosmosis- and electroplasmolysis- related methods. Electroosmosis is based on the electrokinetic effects of an electric field on porous systems as a result of the formation of a double electrical layer at a solid-fluid interface. Electroplasmolysis is based on the transformation or rupture of cells by an external electric field (breakdown), which results in an increase in the electrical conductivity and permeability of the cell material (Zimmermann, Pilwat, & Riemann, 1974).

In the field of food technologies, electrotreatment can be used for non-thermal pasteurization of food products, to increase yield in juice and sugar production, and in winemaking (Barbosa-Canovas, Gongora-Nieto, Pothakamury, & Swanson, 1999). However, there is a lack of data in the literature about the impact of this emerging technology on oils and its effect on the unsaturated fatty acids. This information would be relevant since unsaturated fatty acids are very susceptible to oxidation and react readily with oxidants or under oxidizing conditions, and therefore, their behavior could vary after of an electric field treatment. Hence, the aim of this study was to analyze the effect of an electric field (voltage: 3 kV [cm.sup.-1], frequency: 60 Hz and with a time of application of 5 and 25 min) on the unsaturated fatty acids in virgin olive oil.

Material and methods


Virgin olive oil, manufactured and imported from Spain, was purchased on the local market in Puebla, Mexico. Oil was obtained by cold-pressing with a maximum acid rate of 2.0% of oleic acid. Nutritional information indicated 5 g of total lipid content, 3.6 g of monounsaturated fatty acids, 0.7 g of polyunsaturated fatty acids, 0.7 g of saturated fatty acids and 0 g of trans fatty acids.

Electric field treatment

Electric field was applied on the samples in a scale unit of electric field designed by the Research Center for Applied Biotechnology of the National Polytechnic Institute located in the Municipality of Tepetitla, belonging to the State of Tlaxcala, Mexico. The voltage (3 kV [cm.sup.-1]), frequency (60 Hz) and time of treatment of 5 and 25 min, were similar to those used by Castorena (2008) to inactivate polyphenol oxidase enzyme. The scale unit of electric field consisted of a generator (where high-voltage is produced). The generator is connected to a unit (model 9412A, Quantum Composers, Inc., Bozeman, MT) where the required waveform could be selected (a square form was selected for this work). The unit is connected to a chamber with two stainless steel connectors (acting as electrodes). Both electrodes are screwed to the final section of the chamber. Samples were collected after these treatments and were stored in a closed container at 25[degrees]C. Measurements of the chemical parameters (acidity, peroxide and iodine) were done. All treatments were performed in triplicate.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

Bruker spectrometer (model Vertex 70 Bruker Optics-Bruker Corporation, Billerica, Massachusetts, USA) with fast Fourier transformer in the measurement mode called Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) was employed. The used crystal was a ZnSe of one reflection. The infrared absorbance was measured in the mid-infrared region from 4000 to 600 [cm.sup.-1], with a resolution of [+ or -] 4 [cm.sup.-1] and an integration time of 60 s (1 s per scan). Data acquisition and processing were performed by OPUS 6.0 (Bruker Optics, USA). Only 20 [micro]L of each sample was deposited on the instrument's crystal. The changes in the fatty acids in the crude oils samples were obtained by comparing using a standard of 37-components (Food Industry FAMEs Mix, Restek). The virgin olive oil that was used in this work had a concentration of 3.5 g oleic acid "C18:1", which is the main fatty acid found in this oil. Therefore, to quantify trans fatty acid was taken as parameter the elaidate fatty acid "C18:1t" (purity [greater than or equal to] 99%, Sigma-Aldrich). The analysis was according to the methodology reported by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists [AOAC] (2005). The results were substituted into the Equation 1:

Trans as methyl elaidate(%) = (g methyl eliadate weight equivalents/test portion weight, g/10 mL [CS.sub.2])x 100 (1)

Characterization of the virgin olive oil

The virgin olive oil was characterized by the following chemical analysis: acidity rate, defined as the quantity in mg of KOH necessary to neutralize the free fatty acids in 1.0 g of oil or fat (Norma Mexicana, 1987a); peroxide rate, expressed as the mEq of [O.sub.2] in the form of peroxide per kg of fat or oil (Norma Mexicana, 1987b); iodine rate, determine the quantity of unsaturated fatty acids in fats and oils in cg of [I.sub.2] absorbed per gram of sample (Norma Mexicana, 1981). Each analysis was performed in triplicate.

Statistical analysis

Results were expressed as mean value [+ or -] SD. Statistical analysis was performed by analysis of variance (ANOVA) at [alpha] = 0.05 significance. Statistical Analysis System 6.1 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA) was employed for analyses.

Results and discussion

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and quality parameters

The oil was analyzed by FTIR spectroscopy to determine the characteristic modes of vibration and the wavenumbers of absorption peaks. Several quality parameters were also determined on the samples (without treatment and with an electric field treatment). Results are shown in Table 1 and Figure 1.


In Figures 1A, B, C, and D can be seen that the absorption peaks at wavenumbers 723, 1417, 1658, and 3006 cm-1 that corresponds to the cis double bonds, with move of bending and stretching respectively, according to Guillen & Cabo (1998) and Yang, Irudayaraj, & Paradkar (2005). In these wavenumbers showed not changes in the double bonds in the tested samples compared with standard. Morover, the treatment time increase did not affect the unsaturated fatty acids in the oils, these results were corroborated by iodine value, and are within the range specified (75-94 cg [I.sub.2] [g.sup.-1]) by the international standard for virgin olive oil (Organizacao das Nacoes Unidas para a Alimentacao e a Agricultura [FAO], 1999) (Table 1).

Figure 1C shows the absorption peaks wavenumbers corresponding to the stretching and overtone of the carboxyl functional group of triacylglyceride esters (Guillen & Cabo, 1998).

The virgin olive oil samples showed a minimal concentration of free fatty acids, according with the results of acidity value. On the other hand, the international standard for virgin olive oil fixes a maximum value of 3.3% of oleic acid (FAO, 1999). so post-processing values are within acceptable range as well, showing that the electrical field treatment preserved the nutritional quality of the oils (Table 1). This can be due to the decrease in lipoxygenase enzyme activity by an electric field application. This enzyme degrades to the triacylglicerols and forms free fatty acids, according to studies in soymilk, peanut oil and olive oil (Ying-Qiu, Qun, Xiu-He, & Zheng-Xing, 2008; Xin-an, Zhong, & Zhi-hong, 2010; Abenoza et al., 2013).

Figure 1D were observed increases in intensity in the functional groups of CH2 and CH3 at 2874 and 2960 cm-1 due to the chemical composition of virgin olive oil, which only contain traces of long-chain fatty acids compared with the standard (C22:1n9, C22:2, C22:6n3, C23:0, C24:0, and C24:1n9).

Figure 1E shows the stretching and overtone of the carboxyl functional group in triacylglyceride ester (Guillen & Cabo, 1998). Oil samples exhibited a weak intensity peak at 3468 [cm.sup.-1], and no significant changes on shift or curve intensity were observed. Therefore, the application of an electric field for long periods on virgin olive oil samples; does not significantly modify their molecular structure. Nevertheless, electric field treatment cannot prevent oil oxidation by hydrogen peroxide, and the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids is inevitable, as was quantitified by peroxide value. Bruhl (1996), exposure to oxidants, such as atmospheric oxygen and light, produces singlet oxygen species, which initiates a cascade of reactions leading to oil oxidation. It also produces configuration changes of the double bond from cis to trans form (Coolbear & Keough, 1983). Trans fatty acids were identified with a minimal intensity in all samples in the absorption peak at 968 cm-1 (see Figure 1B). Table 2 shows the results of the trans fatty acids of virgin olive oil treated with an electric field (3 kV cm-1, 60 Hz, with application times 5 and 25 min).

Time of application of an electric field treatment (5 and 25 min), generated a minimal value in the trans fatty acids concentration in virgin olive oil compared to that proposed as maximum allowed by the Food and Drug Administration < 0.5 g 100 [g.sup.-1] of lipids (Food and Drug Administration [FDA], 2003). To prevent the oxidation of fatty acids in the treated samples, exposure to light should be minimized during oil handling, and the product should be stored in non-transparent containers (Psomiadou & Tsimidou, 2002).


Treatment with electric fields did not affect the total concentration of unsaturated fatty acids in virgin olive oil. Since no differences in composition or quality were observed with different treatment times, the use of minimum treatment time for oil conservation (3 kV cm-1, 60 Hz and 5 min) is suggested.

Electric field processing has good prospects for being used in the oil industry as a non-thermal preservation method. It could provide an alternative to preserve oil composition without adding a synthetic antioxidant. However, further investigation is required for more in-depth information on the parameters affecting the result of this treatment.

Doi: 10.4025/actascitechnol.v38i3.28020


The authors are grateful for partial financial support from the Prodep-Mexico program (Grant DSA/103.5/14/10566).


Abenoza, M., Benito, M., Saldana, G., Alvarez, I., Raso, J., & Sanchez-Gimeno, A. C. (2013). Effects of pulsed electric field on yield extraction and quality of olive oil. Food Bioprocess Technology, 6(6), 1367-1373.

Alarcon-de-la-Lastra, C., Barranco, M. D., Motilva, V., & Herrerias, J. M. (2001). Mediterranean diet and health: biological importance of olive oil. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 7(10), 933-950.

Alonso, A., Ruiz-Gutierrez, V, & Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A. (2005). Mono unsaturated fatty acids, olive oil and blood pressure: epidemiological, clinical and experimental evidence. Public Health Nutrition, 9(2), 251-257.

Association of Official Analytical Chemists [AOAC]. (2005). Official Methods of Analysis of AO AC International. USA: AOAC International.

Barbosa-Canovas, G. V., Gongora-Nieto, M. M., Pothakamury, U. R., & Swanson, B. G. (1999). Preservation of foods with pulsed electric fields. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Bruhl, L. (1996). Determination of trans fatty acids in cold pressed oils and in dried seeds. European Journal Lipid Science Technology, 98(11), 380-383.

Castorena, G. J. H. (2008). Aplicacion de los campos electromagneticos pulsantes para la inactivacion de la polifenoloxidasa en la pulpa de aguacate de la variedad Hass (Persea americana Mill). Tepetitla de Lardizabal, Tlaxcala; Mexico: Research Center for Advanced Biotechnology, National Polytechnic Institute.

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Food and Drug Administration. (2003). Trans fatty acids in nutrition labelling; consumer research to consider nutrient content and health claims and possible footnote or disclosure statements. 68FR 41433. Silver Spring, United Stated: FDA.

Guillen, D., & Cabo, N. (1998). Relationships between the composition of edible oils and lard and the ratio of the absorbance of specific bands of their Fourier transform infrared spectra. Role of some bands of the fingerprint region. Journal Agricultural Food Chemistry, 46(5), 1789-1793.

Norma Mexicana. (1981). Determinacion del indice de yodo por el metodo de Wijs. Norma Mexicana NMX-F-152-S-1981. Cidade do Mexico, Mexico: Norma Mexicana.

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Organizacao das Nacoes Unidas para a Alimentacao e a Agricultura. (1999). Norma del CODEX para los aceites de oliva virgenes y refinados y los aceites refinados de orujo de aceituna No Regulados por Normas Individuales. Roma, Italia: FAO.

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Ying-Qiu, L., Qun, Ch., Xiu-He, L., & Zheng-Xing, Ch. (2008). Inactivation of soybean lipoxygenase in soymilk by pulsed electric fields. Food Chemistry, 109(2), 408-414.

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Received on June 1, 2015.

Accepted on February 15, 2016.

Jose Alberto Ariza-Ortega (1) *, Maria Reyna Robles-Lopez (2), Nelly del Socorro Cruz-Cansino (1), Gabriel Betanzos-Cabrera (1), Teresita de Jesus Saucedo-Molina (1) and Raul Rene Robles-de-la-Torre (2)

(1) Instituto de Ciencias da Saude, Universidade Autonoma do Estado de Hidalgo, Estrada Actopan-Tilcuautla, San Agustin Tlaxiaca, 42086, San Agustin Tlaxiaca, Hidalgo, Mexico. (2) Centro de Investigacao em Biotecnologia Aplicada, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Tepetitla de Lardizabal, Tlaxcala, Mexico. * Author for correspondence. E-mail:
Table 1. Chemical characterization of virgin olive oil.

Time treatment (min)                 0               5

Peroxide rate (mEq [O.sup.2]     3.7 [+ or -]    3.74 [+ or -]
[kg.sup.-1] of oil)              0.5 (a)         0.7 (a)

Acidity rate (% of oleic acid)   2.1 [+ or -]    2.7 [+ or -]
                                 0.1 (a)         0.3 (a)

Iodine rate with Wijs reagent    91.6 [+ or -]   91.5 [+ or -]
(cg  [I.sup.2] [g.sup.-1])       1.0 (a)         1.1 (a)

Time treatment (min)                 25

Peroxide rate (mEq [O.sup.2]     3.76 [+ or -] 0.6 (a)
[kg.sup.-1] of oil)

Acidity rate (% of oleic acid)   2.71 [+ or -] 0.6 (a)

Iodine rate with Wijs reagent    91.4 [+ or -] 1.2 (a)
(cg  [I.sup.2] [g.sup.-1])

Average of 3 replicates [+ or -] SD. Different letters in
superscripts in the same row indicate significant differences
between treatments (p < 0.05).

Table 2. Results of percentage of trans fatty acids in virgin olive
oil treatment with an electric field.

Time (min)              C18:1t

5            0.0001 (a) [+ or -] 0.00001 (a)
25           0.0001 [+ or -] 0.00001 (a)

Means of 3 replicates [+ or -] SE. Different letters in
superscripts between untreated and treated samples
indicate significant difference (p < 0.05).
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Author:Ariza-Ortega, Jose Alberto; Robles-Lopez, Maria Reyna; Cruz-Cansino, Nelly del Socorro; Betanzos-Cab
Publication:Acta Scientiarum. Technology (UEM)
Article Type:Report
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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