Food Analysis pp 117-132 | Cite as

Fat Analysis

  • David B. Min
  • Wayne C. Ellefson
Part of the Food Analysis book series (FSTS)


Lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates constitute the principal structural components of foods. Lipids are a group of substances that, in general, are soluble in ether, chloroform, or other organic solvents but are sparingly soluble in water. However, there exists no clear scientific definition of a lipid, primarily due to the water solubility of certain molecules that fall within one of the variable categories of food lipids (1). Some lipids, such as triacylglycerols, are very hydrophobic. Other lipids, such as di- and monoacylglycerols, have both hydrophobic and hydrophilic moieties in their molecules and are soluble in relatively polar solvents (2). Short-chain fatty acids such as C1–C4 are completely miscible in water and insoluble in nonpolar solvents (1). The most widely accepted definition is based on solubility as previously stated. While most macromolecules are characterized by common structural features, the designation of “lipid” being defined by solubility characteristics is unique to lipids (2). Lipids comprise a broad group of substances that have some common properties and compositional similarities (3). Triacylglycerols are fats and oils that represent the most prevalent category of the group of compounds known as lipids. The terms lipids, fats, and oils are often used interchangeably. The term “lipid” commonly refers to the broad, total collection of food molecules that meet the definition previously stated. Fats generally refer to those lipids that are solid at room temperature and oils generally refer to those lipids that are liquid at room temperature. While there may not be an exact scientific definition, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a regulatory definition for nutrition labeling purposes. The FDA has defined total fat as the sum of fatty acids from C4 to C24, calculated as triglycerides. This definition provides a clear path for resolution of any nutrition labeling disputes.


Petroleum Ether Ethyl Ether Solvent Extraction Method Anhydrous Ether Soxhlet Method 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food Science and TechnologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Nutritional Chemistry and Food SafetyCovance LaboratoriesMadisonUSA

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