The recent expansion in the production of manufactured fatty foods, such as margarine and shortening, had led to the need for cheaper and indigenous sources of food oils. Rapeseed oil, also known as colza oil, has consequently become an important commodity in northern countries because rape, a member of the Brassica family, grows particularly well in temperate climates.
Evidence in the last thirty years has shown that rapeseed oil causes growth retardation and pathogenic changes to internal organs when fed at high concentrations to laboratory animals. These effects were proved to be due to the high levels of erucic acid (cis-13-docosenoic acid) in the rapeseed oil triglycerides. Following the successful Canadian development of rape cultivars yielding oils with very low levels of erucic acid, it became possible for the European Economic Community and a number of countries to introduce legislation controlling the level of erucic acid in oils, fats and fatty foods.
To enforce the EEC legislation, it was necessary to find methods of analysis for the determination of erucic acid in products which may contain different isomers and docosenoic acid derived from other oils and fats.
This paper will describe the chromatographic procedures which have been applied to this problem. Particular emphasis will be placed on the technique developed at the Laboratory of the Government Chemist which forms the basis of a draft official EEC method.
KeywordsErucic Acid Erucic Acid Content Sorting Test Docosenoic Acid Phenacyl Ester
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