Detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in commonly consumed edible oils and their likely intake in the Indian population


Edible oils such as coconut, groundnut, hydrogenated vegetable, linseed, mustard, olive, palm, refined vegetable, rice bran, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower were analyzed for the presence of light and heavy polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) residues using liquid-liquid extraction, cleanup on a silica gel column, and resolution and determination by HPLC using a fluorescence detector. Ten PAH viz. acenaphthene, anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(e)pyrene, benz(ghi)perylene, chrysene, coronene, cyclopenta(def)phenanthrene, phenanthrene, and pyrene were monitored. Analysis of 296 oil samples showed that 88.5% (262) samples were contaminated with different PAH. Of 262 contaminated edible oil samples, 66.4% of the samples showed PAH content of more than the 25 μg/kg recommended by the German Society for Fat Science. The total PAH content was highest in virgin olive oil (624 μg/kg) and lowest in refined vegetable oils (40.2 μg/kg). The maximum content (265 μg/kg) of heavy PAH was found in olive oil and the minimum (4.6 μg/kg) in rice bran oil. Phenanthrene was present in 58.3% of the oil samples analyzed, followed by anthracene (53%). Among the heavy PAH, benzo(e)pyrene was observed in 31.2% of the samples followed by benzo(a)pyrene (25.5%). The intake of PAH was highest through olive oil (20.8 μg/day) followed by soybean oil (5.0 μg/day) and lowest through refined vegetable oil (1.3 μg/day). Based on these monitoring studies, international and national guidelines for permissible levels of PAH can be prepared so as to restrict the intake of these toxic contaminants.

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Correspondence to Mukul Das.

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Pandey, M.K., Mishra, K.K., Khanna, S.K. et al. Detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in commonly consumed edible oils and their likely intake in the Indian population. J Amer Oil Chem Soc 81, 1131–1136 (2004).

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Key Words

  • Heavy PAH
  • HPLC
  • Light PAH
  • vegetable oils