Rancidity is a process that is based on concept of oxidation & reduction. In previous session, we discussed about the process of corrosion, which was also based on oxidation. Related concepts like oxidation, reduction and redox reaction can be learned from previous sessions.

Previous learning sessions:



Rancidity is a process which is based on the concept of oxidation. It’s a process of complete or incomplete oxidation or hydrolysis of food products having fat and oil. It generally happens in the presence of air, light and moisture and can also happen because of bacterial actions. It results in unpleasant taste and odor of food product.

Rancidity mainly happens in three ways:

  • Hydrolytic
    • It refers to the process when triglycerides are hydrolyzed and free fatty acids are released, leading to bad odor & deterioration of the product
    • triglyceride(triacylglycerol) + water → glycerol(propane-1,2,3-triol) + fatty acids
  • Oxidative
    • Oxidative rancidity is related to the degradation by oxygen in the air
  • Microbial

Prevention from Rancidity


There are some processes or procedures using which we can reduce and delay the possibility of rancidity of our products (generally in food products).

  • Adding Antioxidant
    • Added as preservative in fat containing foods
    • Slows down or eliminate oxidative deterioration
  • Adding Inert Gases
    • Inert gases does not react with Oxygen
    • Inert gas like Nitrogen are added to packets or container
    • Ex. – Chips packets flushed with Nitrogen gas
  • Refrigeration
    • Reduced temperature, don’t allow the microbes to continue their processes
  • Vacuum Packaging
    • This is done, to keep oxygen out
  • Using Oxygen Scavengers
    • Oxygen absorbers are added to enclosed packaging
    • Helps to remove or decrease the level of oxygen in package
    • Helps to maintain product safety and extend product life
  • Air-tight Containers
    • Less air too prevents rancidity
  • Storing food in dark place

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *