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J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Mar 21;55(6):2085-93. Epub 2007 Feb 17.

The color space of foods: virgin olive oil.

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  • 1Department Química Física, Universidad de Cádiz, Spain.


The CIE 1976 (L*, a*, and b*) color space for virgin olive oil was determined. Such a space encompasses any acceptable sample of this type of oil irrespective of the agronomic treatment that the olives have undergone because its color is due to two types of pigments, a systematic combination of which provides the whole range of theoretically possible colors. Color is quantified from the visible spectra for pure samples. Therefore, the pigment spectra, which were the averages of those for several samples, were determined in a medium highly similar to the source oil following application of a photochemical method. A combination of the pigment spectra provided 651 spectra for virtual samples, the colors of which spanned the entire color space for virgin olive oil. The positions of more than 100 Spanish olive oil samples of diverse origins in the color space were also determined, and the results were examined in relation to oil type and quality. Similar color spaces can be obtained for other foods, which can thus be characterized in terms of an additional physical property.

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