Low-Cost, Multi-Parameter Rapid Testing of Oil Quality
In the deep-frying of food, the edible oils used are exposed to oxygen and moisture at high temperatures of around 180°C. This consequently alters the quality of the oil, resulting in oil deterioration caused by changes in colour, free fatty acid level, trans-fats levels and more. In commercial settings where oils are typically reused to save costs, this may pose public health hazards. While there are several rapid test kits in the market today, what is missing is an easy and straightforward method for determining the indices to ascertain when the edible oil has deteriorated to the point where it should be discarded.
There is a market need for the rapid testing of oil quality to become more comparable with analytical lab-based tests. Total revenues for food contract test labs are estimated to reach US$3.05 billion, up from US$1.95 billion five years ago, growing at a healthy CAGR of 9.4%. Between 2009 and 2012 alone, the China food safety testing market grew at an average 20% per annum to reach RMB4.01 billion (US$570 million).
This invention presents a method for assessing the quality of edible oils by determining a plurality of parameters including dielectric constant and viscosity. Using the plurality of parameters as input variables of a mathematical model, we are able to reliably predict the values of the total polar compounds (TPC) and triglyceride polymeric content (PTG). The quality of the edible oil can then be quickly determined by comparing the TPC and PTG values to corresponding predetermined thresholds.
With its multi-parameter approach and predictive modelling of TPC and PTG, this invention has several competitive advantages over existing products. The robustness of its testing method is achieved through a multi-input and multi-physical property sampling, which also enables the accurate prediction of TPC and PTG values. Compared to analytical methods, this invention is low-cost, fast, and offers the potential for on-site testing with comparable results.