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May 2002

FOOD AUTHENTICITY SURVEY - CORN (MAIZE) OIL

This survey was conducted as part of the Working Party on Food Authenticity programme which aims to gather information about the description of food in the UK.

Summary

A repeat survey investigating the accuracy of the label description of corn (maize) oils was

carried out. A total of 61 samples were collected during October and early November 2001 from retail outlets and wholesale and catering suppliers in the UK. All the oils analysed were found to be correctly named. This represents a significant improvement on the results of a similar survey reported in 1995 when 35% of the samples tested were found to contain undeclared oil.

Background

Corn oil tends to be more costly than some other vegetable oils such as soyabean oil or rapeseed oil. This price difference may provide unscrupulous operators with the financial

incentive to dilute or adulterate corn oil with cheaper vegetable oils such that the description

of the oil type on the label is not accurate.

The authenticity of corn oils sold in the UK was previously investigated as part of the Single seed vegetable oil surveillance exercise reported by MAFF in 1995. 1 The results for corn oils (also known as maize oils) tested were of concern because 35% of the samples contained three percent or more undeclared oil. The retailers and producers of these oils were informed of the results so that manufacturing practices could be reviewed and improved. The current survey was undertaken to assess whether improvements have been made.

Food Survey Information Sheets on the WWW: http://www.food.gov.uk/science/surveillance/

Legislation

There is no specific legislation controlling the labelling and composition of vegetable oils in the UK. In the UK, giving misleading information about food to consumers and selling food that is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the consumer is covered by the general provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990 2 . More specific legislation covering

the labelling of food is given by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 3 which require that the name used for a food shall be sufficiently precise to inform the purchaser of its true nature and to enable it to be distinguished from products with which it could be confused.

Methodology

Sampling A total of 61 samples were purchased during October and early November 2001 by Trading Standards and Environmental Health Departments and by Food Standards Agency officials. The samples were obtained in nine regional locations throughout the UK (Birmingham, Caerphilly, London, Northern Ireland, Richmond, Warwickshire, West Lothian, West Yorkshire, and South Gloucestershire). The samples collected were all described on the label as ‘corn oil’. They were collected mainly from national, regional and local retailers (92%) but also from wholesalers, catering suppliers and cash & carries (8%). It was noted that batch codes were illegible for two of the products collected.

The UK market for corn oil has been in decline since the original survey was conducted and now represents, at most, only 5% of volume sales of liquid vegetable oils. There are very few branded products and most sales are of own-label oils. 4 The aim of the survey was, therefore, to obtain as many different products as possible.

Analytical approach The analytical protocol comprised two phases.

First phase analysis The 13 C/ 12 C ratio of corn oil is significantly different to that of the other oils of major commercial importance (as it employs the C-4 photosynthetic pathway as opposed to the more common C-3 pathway). Consequently, the stable carbon isotope ratio (SCIR) may be used as a means of detecting C-3 vegetable oils in corn oil. This was, therefore, one of the principle methods used in the survey.

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Fatty acids are the major chemical components of vegetable oils and the different types and amounts of fatty acids present in a pure oil tends to be characteristic and, to a considerable extent, distinguishes one oil from another. Analysis of the fatty acids (and the iodine value – a measure of the degree of saturation of the oil) can also, therefore, be used as a means of detecting the presence of undeclared oils and was also used to assess authenticity.

The fatty acid composition (and iodine value) and the SCIR were determined for all samples. Any samples which did not comply with the relevant specifications (see interpretation of results) were considered to contain undeclared oil and were to be further analysed in order to try to determine the nature of this.

Second phase analysis Oils are complex mixtures and contain many components other than fatty acids, for example desmethylsterols and tocols (tocopherols and tocotrienols). As with the fatty acid profile, the desmethylsterol and tocol composition of an oil tends to be characteristic and analysis of these compounds can be used as supplementary criteria in the identification and authentication of different oils. For corn oil, in particular, the main potential adulterant oils are the cheaper oils, rapeseed and soyabean. Rapeseed oil is characterised by a high concentration of brassicasterol and soyabean oil by a high concentration of d-tocopherol.

Elevated levels of brassicasterol or d-tocopherol in corn oil can, therefore, be indicative of the presence of rapeseed and soyabean oil respectively. In view of this, the second phase of analysis was to involve determination of the desmethylsterol and tocol compositions of samples containing undeclared oil.

Methods of analysis The methods of analysis employed are internationally recognised standard procedures.

Fatty acid composition - ISO 5508 and ISO 5509. 5, 6

Iodine value (calculated from the fatty acid data) - AOCS Cd 1b-87. 7

Stable carbon isotope ratio - There are no standard protocols for the determination of the 13 C/ 12 C isotope ratio. The method used involved burning the sample to form carbon dioxide which is purified by GLC and then analysed using a stable isotope ratio mass

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spectrometer to determine the relative proportions of 12 C and 13 C. Isotopic compositions were presented as a ratio of the heavy isotope 13 C to 12 C measured as parts per thousand with respect to an international standard PDB (Pee Dee Belamnite).

Tocopherols and tocotrienols (tocols) composition - ISO 9936. 8

Desmethylsterol composition - ISO 6799. 9

Interpretation of results Authenticity was assessed by comparing the results of analysis with a purity specification for corn oil. This is contained in the Codex Standard for Named Vegetable Oils which was adopted formally by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in July 2001. 10, 11 It also contains specifications for the main potential adulterants – rapeseed oil (low erucic acid) and soyabean oil. The specifications comprise various chemical and physical criteria including acceptable ranges for fatty acids, iodine value, desmethylsterols, tocols and SCIR (corn oil only).

Results & discussion

Details of the oils collected for the survey are given in Appendix 1.

All of the 61 samples complied fully with the fatty acid (and iodine value) and SCIR specifications for corn oil contained in the Codex Standard, and we therefore believe them to be correctly named on the label.

Conclusions The results of the survey suggest that corn oil now sold in the UK is named correctly on the label. This represents a significant improvement on the situation in 1995 and suggests that suppliers have reviewed their processing procedures and implemented more rigorous quality control. Manufacturers will wish to review their provisions for printing batch codes to ensure that these are clearly legible throughout the lifespan of the product.

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References

1. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1995). MAFF single seed vegetable oil

surveillance exercise. Food Surveillance Information Sheet No 77. November 1995.

2. Food Safety Act 1990. [1990] Ch. 16.

3. Food Labelling Regulations 1996. SI 1996 No 1499.

4. Market information obtained from - Edible oils, Mintel (1999).

5. International Standards Organisation (1990). ISO 5508. Animal and vegetable fats

and oils - analysis by gas chromatography of methyl esters of fatty acids.

6. International Standards Organisation (2000). ISO 5509. Animal and vegetable fats

and oils - preparation of methyl esters of fatty acids.

7. American

calculated iodine value.

Oil

Chemists

Society

(1997).

Recommended

practice,

Cd

1b-87,

Animal and vegetable

fats and oils - determination of composition of the sterol fraction - method using gas

chromatography.

8. International Standards Organisation (1999).

ISO 12228.

9. International

tocopherols and tocotrienols content - method by high performance liquid chromatography.

Standards

Organisation

(1997).

ISO

9936.

Determination

of

10. Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme (2001).

session of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils, London, United Kingdom, 19-23

February 2001. Codex Alimentarius Commission, Alinorm 01/17.

Report of the seventeenth

11. Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme (2001). Codex Alimentarius

Commission: report of the twenty-fourth session, Geneva, 2000. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization, Rome, 2001, Alinorm

01/41.

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Further information

Simona Origgi-Fernando Food Standards Agency

Food Labelling and Standards Division

Room 115B Aviation House 125 Kingsway

London WC2B 6NH

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7276 8160

Fax: +44 (0) 20 7276 8193 E-mail: simona.origgi-fernando@foodstandard.gsi.gov.uk

Authenticity of corn (maize) oils - sample details and analytical results - Appendix 1

Sample

Brand name

Batch code

code

BIR01

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

L1213 08:34

BIR02

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

01835

Time 10:37

BIR03

KTC 'Pure corn oil' KTC (Edibles) Ltd, Becon Works, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands WS10 0JU

1229

BIR04

KTC 'Pure corn oil' KTC (Edibles) Ltd, Becon Works, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands WS10 0JU

1300K

BIR05

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

01365

Time 11.38

BIR06

KTC 'Pure corn oil' KTC (Edibles) Ltd, Becon Works, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands WS10 0JU

1267K

BIR07

East End 'Pure corn oil' East End Foods Plc, East End House, Kendrick Way, West Bromwich B71 4EA

LA1253 09:25

BIR08

East End 'Pure corn oil' East End Foods Plc, East End House, Kendrick Way, West Bromwich B71 4EA

LF12453 13:40

BIR09

KTC 'Pure corn oil' KTC (Edibles) Ltd, Becon Works, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands WS10 0JU

1246K

BIR10

KTC 'Pure corn oil' KTC (Edibles) Ltd, Becon Works, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands WS10 0JU

1283K

BIR11

East End 'Pure corn oil' East End Foods Plc, East End House, Kendrick Way, West Bromwich B71 4EA

IAI/Y/150/96

BIR12

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

L1044 07:00

BIR13

Indus Corn oil '100% pure premium cooking oil' Indus Foods Limited, 55-58 Startford Street, North Sparbrook, Birmingham B11 1BU

601

BIR14

Vita d'Or '100% pure corn oil' Lidl UK GmbH, 19 Worple Road, London SW19 4JS

L+1240 04:24

CA01

Mazola 'Pure corn oil' Bestfoods UK Ltd, Claygate House, Esher, Surrey KT10 9PN

L1218 02:34

CA02

Vita d'Or '100% pure corn oil' Lidl UK GmbH, 19 Worple Road, London SW19 4JS

L+1240 04:37

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CA03

Co-Op 'Pure corn oil' CWS Ltd, Manchester M60 4ES

1193

HA

FSA01

Waitrose 'Corn oil' Waitrose Limited, Bracknell, Berkshire

U

1095

FSA02

Tesco 'Pure corn oil' Tesco Stores Ltd, Cheshunt EN8 9SL

A1 278 13:00

FSA03

ASDA 'Pure corn oil' ASDA Stores Limited, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds LS11 5AD

L+1283 17:23

FSA04

Waitrose 'Corn oil' Waitrose Limited, Bracknell, Berkshire

M

1261

FSA05

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

L1026 02:31

FSA06

Vita d'Or '100% pure corn oil' Lidl Ireland GmbH, Great Connell Road, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

L1219 19:38

FSA07

Vita d'Or '100% pure corn oil' Lidl Ireland GmbH, Great Connell Road, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

L1232 12:28

NI35

Super Valu 'Corn oil - 100% pure and natural' SuperValu Supermarkets Ltd, Laurel House, PO Box 929, Robinhood Industrial Estate, Dublin 22, Ireland

07:47

NI36

Co-Op 'Pure corn oil' CWS Ltd, Manchester M60 4ES

1172

HB

NI37

St Bernard 'Corn oil' Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd, 28 Hill Street, Newry BT34 1AR

L0314 B22

NI38

Sainsbury's 'Pure corn oil' Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, Stamford Street, London SE1

L1124

9LL

NI39

Mazola 'Pure corn oil' Bestfoods UK Ltd, Claygate House, Esher, Surrey KT10 9PN

L1179 18:42

NI40

Super Valu 'Corn oil - 100% pure and natural' SuperValu Supermarkets Ltd, Laurel House, PO Box 929, Robinhood Industrial Estate, Dublin 22, Ireland

10:01

NI41

St Bernard 'Corn oil' Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd, 28 Hill Street, Newry BT34 1AR

LA 1101 14:05

RM01

Sainsbury's 'Pure corn oil' Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, Stamford Street, London SE1

L1197 06:01

9LL

RM02

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

02147 Time 11:31

RM03

Waitrose 'Corn oil' Waitrose Limited, Bracknell, Berkshire

Q

1107

RM04

Tesco 'Pure corn oil' Tesco Stores Ltd, Cheshunt EN8 9SL

1 249 A3 07:37

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SG01

Tesco 'Pure corn oil' Tesco Stores Ltd, Cheshunt EN8 9SL

1 249 A3 08:13

SG02

Mazola 'Pure corn oil' Bestfoods UK Ltd, Claygate House, Esher, Surrey KT10 9PN

L1179 19:02

SG05

Co-Op 'Pure corn oil' CWS Ltd, Manchester M60 4ES

1219

HA

SG06

Sainsbury's 'Pure corn oil' Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, Stamford Street, London SE1

L1197 05:05

9LL

SG07

Vita d'Or '100% pure corn oil' Lidl UK GmbH, 19 Worple Road, London SW19 4JS

L1232 11:03

SG10

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

01323

Time 11:55

WA01

Sainsbury's 'Pure corn oil' Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, Stamford Street, London SE1

L1197 04:52

9LL

WA02

ASDA 'Pure corn oil' ASDA Stores Limited, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds LS11 5AD

L+1261 16:27

WA03

Vita d'Or '100% pure corn oil' Lidl UK GbmH, 19 Worple Road, London SW19 4JS

L1232 11:59

WA04

KTC 'Pure corn oil' KTC (Edibles) Ltd, Becon Works, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands WS10 0JU

0362K

WA05

Best-in Catering 'Pure corn oil' Bestway, London NW10 7BW

1102

K

WA06

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

05038

Time 14:59

WA07

Best-in Catering 'Pure corn oil' Bestway, London NW10 7BW

0349

K

WL01

ASDA 'Pure corn oil' ASDA Stores Limited, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds LS11 5AD

L+1261 15:08

WL02

Mazola 'Pure corn oil' Bestfoods UK Ltd, Claygate House, Esher, Surrey KT10 9PN

L1208 03:19

WL03

Co-Op 'Pure corn oil' CWS Ltd, Manchester M60 4ES

1233

HA

YO01

Morrisons 'Corn oil' Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, WF2 OXF

L1197 10:54

YO02

Morrisons 'Corn oil' Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, WF2 OXF

L1098

YO03

Consumers Pride '100% pure corn oil' Pride Oils Plc, Pride House, Crown Road, Middlesex EN1 1DZ

05972

Time 15:59

YO04

East End 'Pure corn oil' East End Foods Plc, East End House, Kendrick Way, West Bromwich B71 4EA

LEE1199 14:04

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YO05

Olympic '100% pure corn oil' Olympic Oils Ltd, Gaskill Road, Speke, Liverpool L24 9GS

26053

YO06

SOP 'Pure corn oil' Southern Oil Products Edibles (London) Limited, 7 Aston Fields Road, Whitehouse Industrial Estate, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 3DL

illegible

YO07

KTC 'Pure corn oil' KTC (Edibles) Ltd, JS House, Moorcroft Drive, Wednesbury WS10 7DE

1236K

YO08

Best-in Catering 'Pure corn oil' Bestway, London NW10 7BW

1177 N24K

YO09

Olympic '100% pure corn oil' Olympic Oils Ltd, Gaskill Road, Speke, Liverpool L24 9GS

65B95

YO10

SOP 'Pure corn oil' Southern Oil Products Edibles (London) Limited, 7 Aston Fields Road, Whitehouse Industrial Estate, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 3DL

illegible

Note: All samples complied with the Codex Alimentarius acceptable ranges for fatty acids (and iodine value), and for the stable carbon isotope ratio (SCIR).

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