Triacylglycerol and Fatty Acid Compositions of French Virgin Olive Oils. Characterization by Chemometrics

There is no data concerning the fatty acid and triacylglycerol composition of French virgin olive oil. Thus, these compositions were determined using 564 samples coming from four olive harvests (1998−1999 to 2000−2001). Among these 564 samples, 372 came from the four main French cultivars (Aglandau, Cailletier, Picholine, and Salonenque) and from both of the oldest French protected designations of origin:  “Nyons” (cv. Tanche) and “Vallée des Baux”. The fatty acid compositions took the different isomeric monounsaturated fatty acids (C16:1 and C18:1) into account. The eicosenoic acid is gondoic acid (20:1n-9) and was determined by dimethyl disulfide adduct using GC/MS. The use of propionitrile as a mobile phase for the HPLC analysis of the triacylglycerols led to better resolutions between triacylglycerols than those resolutions obtained with the mix of solvents recommended by the normalized method (acetone/acetonitrile). Of the samples, 88 had a 9-heptadecenoic acid level (17:1n-8) higher than 0.3% and 33 had a linolenic acid level higher than 0.9%, which are maximal values accepted by the International Olive Oil Council and the European Union. A linear discriminant analysis was carried out on 372 samples with the SAS system and particularly with STEPISC and CANDISC procedures. Variables (<i>n</i> = 37) representing the different fatty acids, the sum of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, squalene, and triacylglycerols were used, thus allowing us to classify samples into six groups defined with 100% of well classified samples. These results constitute an original data bank that can be used to identify the origin of virgin olive oils. Keywords: French virgin olive oil; fatty acids; triacylglycerols; monocultivars; PDO; chemometrics