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A 3-year Study on Quality, Nutritional and Organoleptic Evaluation of Organic and Conventional Extra-Virgin Olive Oils

Ninfali, Paolino, Bacchiocca, Mara, Biagiotti, Enrica, Esposto, Sonia, Servili, Maurizio, Rosati, Adolfo, Montedoro, Gianfrancesco
journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 2008 v.85 no.2 pp. 151-158
Olea europaea, cultivars, olive oil, organic production, food quality, volatile organic compounds, chemical composition, phenols, tocopherols, peroxides, sensory properties, plant cultural practices, alternative farming
The quality of extra-virgin olive oils (EVOO) from organic and conventional farming was investigated in this 3-year (2001-2003) study. The oils were extracted from Leccino and Frantoio olive (Olea europaea) cultivars, grown in the same geographical area under either organic or conventional methods. Extra-virgin olive oils (EVOO) were produced with the same technology and samples were analyzed for nutritional and quality parameters. Volatile compounds were measured with solid-phase microextraction combined with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (SPME-GC-MS). Sensory evaluation was also completed by a trained panel. Significant differences were found in these parameters between organic and conventional oils in some years, but no consistent trends across the 3 years were found. The acidity of organic Leccino oils was higher than conventional oils in 2001 and 2002 but not in 2003; Frantoio oils were never different. Organic Leccino oils had higher peroxide index than conventional oils in 2001 and 2002 but it was the reverse in 2003. Organic Frantoio oils had lower peroxide index in 2001, but values were not statistically different in the other years. The concentrations of phenols, o-diphenols, tocopherols, the antioxidant capacity and the volatile compounds showed differences in some years and no difference, or opposite differences, in others. Sensory analysis showed only slight differences in few aromatic notes. Our results showed that organic versus conventional cultivation did not affect consistently the quality of the high quality EVOO considered in this study, at least in the measured parameters. Genotype and year-to-year changes in climate, instead, had more marked effects.