NMR-Based Metabolite Profiling and the Application of STOCSY toward the Quality and Authentication Assessment of European EVOOs
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) possesses a high-value rank in the food industry, thus making it a common target for adulteration. Hence, several methods have been essentially made available over the years. However, the issue of authentication remains unresolved with national and food safety organizations globally struggling to regulate and control its market. Over the course of this study, the aim was to determine the origin of EVOOs suggesting a high-throughput, state-of-the-art method that could be easily adopted. A rapid, NMR-based untargeted metabolite profiling method was applied and complemented by multivariate analysis (MVA) and statistical total correlation spectroscopy (STOCSY). STOCSY is a valuable statistical tool contributing to the biomarker identification process and was employed for the first time in EVOO analysis. Market samples from three Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy, and Greece, blended samples from these countries, as well as monocultivar samples from Greece were analyzed. The NMR spectra were collected, with the help of chemometrics acting as “fingerprints” leading to the discovery of certain chemical classes and single biomarkers that were related to the classification of the samples into groups based on their origin.