Edible fats and oils have a peculiar role in food science, technology and nutrition; besides being solely energy source, they are important as carrier of bioactive molecules as antioxidants, hormones and vitamins precursors or having themselves such roles.
Natural fats and oils need anyway for an extraction step, before it, raw matter undergoes to processes that can contaminate them: harvesting mechanical devices, transporter belts, piping, valves etc. to end with storage and packaging. In the case of seeds, they can be stored for long times before extraction; in order to avoid some degradation depending on enzymatic activity or biotic agents as molds and microorganisms, the content of water must be reduced: drying can be a source of contamination.
In this paper, details will be given concerning selected organic contaminants (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons – PAHs-, Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons – MOSH-, Mineral Oils Aromatic Hydrocarbons – MOAH-, Phtalates).
PAHs contamination can be removed by refining, of course, preventing contamination is a more suitable strategy; limits for PAHs in fats and oils had been established by different Countries legislation, of course to check for contamination, analytical methods are required ; some matrix problems arise so that a purification step must be applied, as well.
Mineral oils contamination depends on a number of different sources, packaging being involved, too, in this case, selected analytical methods had been developed by applying advanced hyphenated chromatographic techniques, too, while in the case of phtalates severe blank problems must be kept in mind to avoid false positive results.