Creating a Color Scale for Edible Oils Using Spectrophotometric Technology

The color scale of edible oils may not seem like an important factor in the quality of oil products. In truth, consumers rarely notice the color of the edible oils they are using, until that color scale starts to show variations. Even slight changes in color indicate to consumers that something is not right with their product or that the quality has changed, even if the integrity of the oil remains the same. Color is a huge factor in consumer opinion and choice, and maintaining an even color scale in the production of edible oils is an important step in process monitoring and quality control.

coconut oil color scale
The color of edible oils is an important quality in consumer acceptability. To maintain a consistent level of color, continual color monitoring throughout the production process is necessary.
Image Source: Flickr user Mike Linksvayer

The role of color measurement in edible oil production

Color measurement goes far beyond the aesthetic results of the final oil product. In order to achieve desired results, consistent monitoring of color scale changes from the beginning to ending stages of production is highly beneficial. From the start, when monitoring the pigmentation levels of crude seeds, spectrophotometric data can be used to show signs of unexpectedly high levels of pigmentation due to unfavorable growing conditions. This data can alert production teams in advance to potential problems that may require additional bleaching or blending methods which are often costly and time-consuming. In addition to early detection, continuous color scale monitoring can help determine necessary changes that should be made throughout processing in order to ensure a desired color outcome. According to the AOCS (American Oil Chemists’ Society), “Obtaining color data regularly on oil suspected to be unstable would indicate its condition and help to avoid making incorrect decisions regarding blending.”

Omega-3 color scale
Edible oils come from various sources and have may uses in foods and supplemental nutritional products. Desired color outcome is highly dependent of continual color monitoring and can save time and money throughout the production process.
Image Source: Flickr user Sam-Cat

What is a color scale?             

When measuring oil color, the chemical compounds that are present in the sample often exhibit specific color attributes. These differences can easily be detected with spectrophotometers using a color scale that bases its measurements on both visible and ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy. A color scale for specific compounds such as chlorophyll will be in the green color range on the color scale and can be used to indicate final color outcome. Chlorophyll detection in oils through UV spectrophotometry has also been linked to measuring and quantifying this compound in relation to the antioxidant health benefits that it provides. This information is valuable for the proper labeling and promotion of these health claims and can increase the value of the product.

olive oil color scale
Spectrophotometers can go beyond basic color measurement and identify specific compounds in oils, like coconut oil, that help to determine the health benefits and claims of the product.
Image Source: Flickr user Flavio~

Making the right choice in spectrophotometric technology

Understanding and utilizing spectrophotometric technology can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and support, proper instrumentation can save valuable time and money. At HunterLab, we specialize in both the food industry and liquid sample measurement. Our spectrophotometers follow specific design elements that are intended to meet the needs and challenges of specific food markets and our customer support team specializes in creating an ongoing relationship with the client. We strive to make your equipment work to your best advantage and guarantee the quality and durability of our products. Contact HunterLab today to learn more about our product options and our dedication to the world of color measurement.

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