The importance of good lighting for oil preservation
Preserving oil, particularly olive oil, is a challenging task. In addition to the right temperature and humidity, light is essential to ensuring maximum product quality. What does this mean in practice?
This article addresses...
- WHY OLIVE OIL PRESERVATION REQUIRES SPECIAL LIGHTING
- CORRECT LIGHTING FOR GOOD OIL PRESERVATION
- SPECIALIST LUMINAIRES FROM SECOM
Why olive oil preservation requires special lighting
Direct or excessive exposure to light degrades an oil’s essential properties and characteristics and is one reason why light must be carefully managed.
Preserving its properties
Continuous light exposure gradually degrades an oil’s properties. While the effects may initially seem minimal, over time light causes changes in the composition of the oil. Light also speeds up the natural degradation process, which for oil is slow but not negligible; its qualities, and therefore its quality, deteriorate more quickly when the oil is exposed to light.
Light not only affects open containers of oil but those which are still sealed. Natural and artificial lighting alike must be carefully managed to ensure the optimal conditions for oil preservation. For example, vitamin E and polyphenols – a powerful antioxidant and micronutrients that contribute to cardiovascular health, respectively – degrade more quickly when the product is exposed to direct light.
The colour of an olive oil is one of its most distinctive features. In fact, it is used as a marker of quality in tastings, with hues ranging from yellow to green depending on how mature the olives were and how they were crushed.
Exposure to light and high temperatures can drastically alter an oil’s colour. Green oils, for example, can turn yellow over time. Oils should be stored in relatively opaque bottles for this reason.
Oxidation and changes to smell and taste
Smell and taste are the hallmarks of a quality olive oil. Unfortunately, both are degraded by light exposure.
Light speeds up the oxidation process, even more so if the bottle is left open, meaning the flavour of an olive oil is negatively affected by poor preservation and incorrect storage.
Correct lighting for good oil preservation
Olive oil preservation requires, among other factors, control over the amount of light exposure to prevent the product from spoiling before its time and ensure its unique qualities are not affected.
Sunlight, particularly direct exposure coupled with a lack of protective packaging, can cause an oil to go bad. UV rays degrade and oxidise the oil over time.
Olive oil should ideally be kept in its original packaging and always stored in a dark place. A pantry is the perfect place since these typically have stable temperatures, no draughts, no dampness and no light.
If an oil will be exposed to artificial lighting, low-intensity energy saving bulbs are the best choice for protecting the qualities of this precious liquid. What’s more, they’re a better choice for the environment.
Removal of emission spectra
Ultraviolet and infrared are the most harmful spectra for olive oil. Both degrade the oil more quickly by speeding up the oxidation process and altering its taste or smell. Lighting emission spectra must therefore be managed to ensure optimal preservation.
This is where lighting choice comes into play, not only in the home but in supermarkets and warehouses where, though the oil is already bottled, it can be degraded before it ever reaches consumers.
Specialist luminaires from SECOM
SECOM supplies a variety of specialist luminaires for indoor use including devices from Boxter, Aircom Supra Plus, Protek, Protek Q2 and Konak. These lights are designed not to damage the products exposed to them, which in the case of olive oil is of paramount importance.
Boxter offers various indoor floodlights specifically designed for commercial premises. All are equipped with high quality LED technology and emit a light spectrum perfectly suited to food storage areas. This makes it easier to preserve olive oil so that customers can enjoy the best quality product possible.
Conservation of olive oil is key to ensuring the utmost quality in the end product and one that retains all its sensory properties. Product care, particularly when it comes to such a quintessentially Spanish item, is important for protecting the reputation of the brand. Selecting the appropriate lights for oil preservation is the only way to meet the highest standards and ensure a first-rate product lovingly crafted down to the finest detail.
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