Rancidity: Fats & Oils

Rancidity is one of the most important quality parameters for fat-containing foods. The term rancidity refers to the decomposition of fats or oils by either hydrolysis or oxidation.

Hydrolytic rancidity results from the degradation of triglycerides into glycerol and free fatty acid (FFA) by the effect of water, heat, and enzyme (lipase).

Oxidation results in oxidative rancidity, which is the result of oxygen attacks on glycerides.

This degradation causes unpleasant 'off' odors and flavors in foods. Natural (polyphenol, ascorbic acid) or synthetic (BHA, BHT) antioxidants are generally added to the fat-containing foods to prevent rancidity. Since heat and light accelerate the reaction rate of fats with oxygen, storing the products in cool and dark environments also reduces the rancidity. 


Yahia, E. M. (2011). Postharvest biology and technology of tropical and subtropical fruits: Cocona to mango. Elsevier.