Shelf Life by FTIR: Rapid determination of the shelf life of fatty foods in liquid form

Noelia Tena Pajuelo graduated with a degree in Chemical Sciences from the University of Seville in 2005. Master in High Specialisation in Fats in 2006. PhD in Chemistry from the University of Seville in 2010 (with an extraordinary prize and European doctorate). During her doctoral thesis, she made two stays in European research centres of recognised prestige (IRMM- Joint Research Centre- European Commission and Wageningen University- Rikilt). After obtaining her PhD degree, she obtained a three-year post-doctoral contract through a European-wide competitive selection process at the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements IRMM-JRC-EC. Researcher ComFuturo (I edition) at the Institute of Fats of the CSIC, where she developed her project “Rapid determination of the shelf life of fatty foods in liquid form“.

Project Summary

At present, the determination of the shelf life of fatty foods is based on accelerated oxidation methods. The main problem with this method is extrapolating the results to real conditions of deterioration which, in the case of olive oil, is due to the lack of accuracy in predicting the preferred consumption date, which has generated numerous problems. There have been cases in which an oil bottled with an extra virgin category has been evaluated after a certain period of time with a lower category without having exceeded the preferred consumption date indicated on the label. The lack of accuracy in predicting the shelf life of oil has awakened mistrust in the consumer, and in the businessman, the need to demand new ways of establishing the shelf life of oil without losing product quality during that time.

This project aims to respond to this demand, using a new “Mesh cell” analysis strategy within medium infrared spectroscopy. These cells offer the possibility of exposing the oil to a surface/volume ratio that will allow the oil to oxidise by contact with oxygen under less accelerated conditions than in the case of Rancimat. The oil will remain in the “Mesh cell” for a predetermined time, during which spectra will be recorded after specific time intervals. The spectral information obtained will provide information on the evolution of different chemical compounds related to oil quality (hydroperoxides, trans double bonds, etc.) over time. Statistical analysis will allow the development of a model capable of predicting the useful life of the oil according to its initial spectrum and based on the kinetics of degradation or formation of the chemical compounds mentioned above. Another model will predict the final concentration of trans isomers at the end of the oil’s useful life.


It studies the changes that oil undergoes in the conditions in which it is usually stored. The information obtained will be used to create a mathematical model to predict the oil’s shelf life, something that is increasingly necessary to ensure that its optimal nutritional and sensory properties reach the consumer. In the Spanish food industry, virgin olive oil is a strategic sector that benefits greatly from improvements in quality control, which have a clear economic impact.

Scientific production derived from the ComFuturo Project

Scientific articles  

  • N. Tena; R. Aparicio; D. L. García-González (2018). Photooxidation effect in liquid lipid matrices: Answers from an innovative FTIR spectroscopy strategy with «Mesh Cell» Incubation. J AGRIC FOOD CHEM. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b05981



  • R. Aparicio-Ruiz; N. Tena; I. Romero; R. Aparicio; D.L. García-González, M.T. Morales (2017). Predicting extra virgin olive oil freshness during storage by fluorescence spectroscopy. GRASAS Y ACEITES. DOI:


  • D.L García-González; N. Tena; I. Romero; R. Aparicio-Ruiz; M.T. Morales; R. Aparicio (2017). A study of the differences between trade standards inside and outside Europe. GRASAS Y ACEITES. DOI:


Book chapters


  • N. Tena; A. Lobo-Prieto; R. Aparicio; D. L. García-González (2018) Storage and Preservation of Fats and Oils. REFERENCE MODULE IN FOOD SCIENCEDOI: En: “Encyclopedia of Food Security and Sustainability” Eds: P. Ferranti; E. Berry; A. Jock. Elservier. ISBN: 9780128126875. Invitation from the Editor.


  • N. Tena, R. Aparicio-Ruiz, A. Koidis, D. L. García-González (2017). Analytical tools in authenticity and traceability of olive oil. En: “Food Traceability and Authenticity Analytical Techniques” Eds: D. Montet; R. C. Ray. CRC Press, Boca Raton, ISBN 9781498788434. Capítulo 13, 232-260. Invitation from the Editor


Works presented at conferences


  • N. Tena; R. Aparicio Ruiz; A. Lobo Prieto; M.T. Morales; R. Aparicio; D. L. García-González. Oxidation stability of edible oils expose to moderate light intensity and mild heating by mesh cell-FTIR spectroscopy. 6th International Conference on the Olive Tree and Olive Products OLIVEBIOTEQ’18. Poster. Seville, Andalusia, Spain. 15/10/2018-19/10/2018.


  • D. L. García-González; N. Tena; I. Romero; R. Aparicio Ruiz; M. T. Morales; R. Aparicio. Comparative study between trade standards for olive oil inside and outside Europe. Belfast summit on global food integrity ASSET 2018. Poster. Belfast, Ireland. 29/05/2018-31/05/2018


  • N. Tena; R. Aparicio Ruiz; A. Lobo Prieto; M. T. Morales; R. Aparicio; D. L. García González. A Study of Photooxidation in Edible Oils by FTIR Spectroscopy and Incubation at Moderate Light Intensity. 2018 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo. Poster. Minneapolis, United States of America. 06/05/2018-09/05/2018


  • N. Tena; R. Aparicio Ruiz; A. Lobo Prieto; M. T. Morales; R. Aparicio; D. L. García González. Assessing Virgin Olive Oil Stability and Shelf Life at Moderate Conditions by FTIR Spectroscopy Endowed with a Mesh Cell Accessory. 2018 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo. Oral presentation. Minneapolis, United States of America. 06/05/2018-09/05/2018


  • D. L. García González; R. Aparicio-Ruiz; N. Tena; A. Lobo; E. Valli; P. Brereton; J. Donarski; V. Bailey-Horne, L. Conte; F. Lacoste; M. Servilli; P.A Golay; A. Maquet; S. Vichi; O. Winkelmann; A. Benfini; T. Gallina Toschi. New analytical strategies for the quality control of virgin olive oil based on the chemical characterization of aroma. 31st EFFoST International Conference. Oral presentation. Sitges, Spain, 14/11/2017-16/11/2017


  • N. Tena; R. Aparicio Ruiz; A. Lobo; D. L. García González; M. T. Morales; R. Aparicio. Evaluation of virgin olive oil shelf-life by mesh cell-FTIR spectroscopy. 3rd IMEKO FOODS metrology promoting standardization and harmonization in food nutrition. Poster. Thessaloniki, Greece. 04/10/2017- 04/10/2017


  • D. L. García-González; R. Aparicio-Ruiz, N. Tena; E. Valli; O. Winkelmann, P. Brereton; F. Lacoste; A. Maquet; S. Vichi; L. Conte; A. Bendini; T. Gallina-Toschi. The development of Reference Materials in virgin olive oil sensory assessment: The contribution of flavor chemistry. 3rd IMEKO FOODS metrology promoting standardization and harmonization in food nutrition. Oral presentation. Thessaloniki, Greece. 04/10/2017- 04/10/2017


  • N. Tena; I. Romero del Rio; C. Oliver; R. Aparicio Ruíz; A Alcalá Galán; M. T. Morales; D. L. García González. Geographical traceability of Andalusian virgin olive oil PDOs. 13th Euro Fed Lipid Congress: Fats, Oils and Lipids: Challenges in Technology, Quality Control and Health. Poster. Florence, Italy. 27/09/2015-30/09/2015


  • D. L. García González; A. Lobo; N. Tena; R. Aparicio Ruiz. Mejoras del análisis sensorial: identificación de puntos de mejora y desarrollo de métodos de análisis. III WORKSHOP ACEITE DE OLIVA. Análisis sensorial: situación actual y nuevos retos. Invited oral presentation. Barcelona, Spain. 19/09/2017-19/09/2017


  • D. L García-González; T. Gallina Toschi; I. Romero; N. Tena; E. Valli; O. Winkelmann; P. Brereton; F. Lacoste; A. Maquet; S. Vichi; L. Conte; A. Bendini. Advances for a comprehensive evaluation of quality of virgin olive oil: in the search of reference materials. 15th Euro Fed Lipid Congress Oil, Fats and Lipids: New technologies and Applications for a Healthier Life. Oral presentation. Upsala, Sweden. 27/08/2017-30/08/2017


  • N. Tena. Proyecto ComFuturo: Aproximación rápida de la vida útil del aceite de oliva virgen mediante espectroscopía infrarroja. XVIII simposium científico-técnico Expoliva. Oral presentation. Jaén, Spain. 11/05/2017-12/05/2017


  • N. Tena; R. Aparicio; D.L. García-González. Stability study of edible oils by mesh cell FTIR under moderate conditions of light and temperature. Assuring the integrity of the food chain: turning science into solutions», FOODINTEGRITY 2017. Poster. Parma, Italy. 10/05/2017-11/05/2017.


  • D.L. García-González; NTena; C. Oliver; R. Aparicio-Ruiz; A. Lobo; M.T. Morales; R. Aparicio. Sensory analysis of olive oils: Do you recognize an adulterated product? “Assuring the integrity of the food chain: turning science into solutions», FOODINTEGRITY 2017. Invited oral presentation. Parma, Italy. 10/05/2017-11/05/2017.


  • M.T. Morales; I. Romero del Rio; C. Oliver; N. Tena; R. Aparicio-Ruiz; D.L. García-González; R. Aparicio. Validated analytical approach for a reliable analysis of virgin olive oil volatile compounds. 14th Euro Fed Lipid Congress: Oils, fats, and lipids: innovative approaches towards a sustainable future. Poster. Ghent, Belgium. 18/09/2016-21/09/2016


  • D.L. García-González; C. Oliver; I. Romero del Rio; N. Tena; R. Aparicio-Ruiz;  M.T. Morales; R. Aparicio. Developing analytical tools for sensory assessment: from aroma to flavour compounds and vice versa. 14th Euro Fed Lipid Congress: Oils, fats, and lipids: innovative approaches towards a sustainable future. Oral presentation. Ghent, Belgium. 18/09/2016-21/09/2016


  • D.L. García-González; N. Tena; C. Oliver-Pozo; I. Romero del Río; M.T. Morales; R. Aparicio. Authentication of geographical provenance of virgin olive oil by means of targeted and non – targeted approaches. Workshop “Geographic origin and authenticity of food products: from tools to legislation”. Invited oral presentation. Lisbon, Portugal. 04/07/2016-04/07/2016


  • M.T Morales; I. Romero del Río; C. Oliver; N. Tena; R. Aparicio Ruiz; D.L García González; R. Aparicio. Compuestos volátiles como marcadores de trazabilidad del acite de oliva virgen. XV reunión del grupo regional andaluz de la sociedad española de química analítica. Poster. Almería, Spain. 30/06/2016-01/07/2016


  • N. Tena. Aceite de Oliva Virgen: fecha de consumo preferente y nuevas estrategias de evaluación. II Workshop TRAFOON de Aceituna de Mesa y Aceite de Oliva. Oral presentation. Córdoba, Spain. 08/06/2016 – 09/06/2016


  • N. Tena. Proyecto ComFuturo: Determinación Rápida de la vida útil de aceites comestibles. XXXVI Asamblea de Miembros del Instituto de la Grasa, AECSIC. Oral presentation. Seville, Spain. 21/04/2016 – 22/04/2016


  • I. Romero del Rio; C. Oliver-Pozo; N. Tena; R. Aparicio-Ruiz; M.T. Morales; R. Aparicio; D.L. Garcia-Gonzalez. Authentication of virgin olive oil quality by a SPMEGCMS validated method. Assuring the integrity of the food chain: Fighting food fraud conference (FOODINTEGRITY 2016). Poster. Prague, Czech Republic. 06/04/2016 – 07/04/2016


  • N. Tena. Compuestos del aroma del aceite de oliva virgen: marcando la diferencia. Ciclos de conferencia de investigadores noveles. Academia Iberoamericana de Farmacia Invited oral presentation. Seville, Spain. 11/11/2015 – 11/11/2015


  • N. Tena. Sensory analysis of olive oils: Do you recognise adulterated product? 7th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis. Oral presentation. Prague, Czech Republic. 03/11/2015 – 06/11/2015


  • D. L. García González; N. TenaWP4-Olive Oil Integrity – Joining Quality and Authenticity. 7th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis. Poster. Prague, Czech Republic, 03/11/2015-06/11/2015


  • N. Tena. Colaboración OPIs-JRC. Proyectos europeos sobre seguridad y calidad alimentaria en colaboración con distintos institutos del JRC. Actividades y oportunidades de colaboración con el centro común de Investigaciones Europeo (Joint Research Center). Invited oral presentation. Madrid. 7/10/2015 – 07/10/2015