Rapid Analysis of Acylglycerols in Low Molecular Weight Milk Fat Fractions


A suitable analytical method was required to facilitate development of an industrial-scale short-path distillation (SPD) process. Short-path distillation produces milk fat distillates (MFD) enriched in low molecular weight milk fat components—viz. free fatty acids, monoacylglycerols, diacylglycerols, cholesterol and low molecular weight triacylglycerols. In this case, solid-phase extraction (SPE) was considered a better alternative than thin-layer chromatography for separating polar and apolar lipid components in MFD samples due to its speed and near-complete recoveries. Solid-phase extraction of MFDs yielded two fractions, both of which are sufficiently pure for subsequent analysis by gas chromatography. This procedure provided rapid and complete chemical characterization (including mass balances) of low-molecular weight milk-fat fractions.

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Fig. 5





Fatty acid


Free fatty acid


Flame ionization detector


Gas chromatograph(y)




Milk fat


Milk fat distillate


MFD collected at 170 °C


MFD collected at 185 °C


MFD collected at 195 °C


MFD collected at 200 °C


Molecular weight


Retention time


Standard error




Short-path distillation


Solid-phase extraction


First SPE fraction


Second SPE fraction




Thin-layer chromatography


Trimethyl silyl


Trimethyl silyl imidazole


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We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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Correspondence to R. W. Lencki.

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Craven, R.J., Lencki, R.W. Rapid Analysis of Acylglycerols in Low Molecular Weight Milk Fat Fractions. Lipids 42, 473–482 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-007-3044-6

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  • Minor lipids
  • Milk fat
  • Short-path distillation
  • Diacylglycerol
  • Gas chromatography