Free Fatty Acids and Cocoa Butter Quality Traits: Causes and Impact on Consumers’ Health

Joëlle Stéphanie Tape

Food Biotechnology and Microbiology Laboratory, UFR Food Sciences and Technologies, Nangui Abrogoua University, 02 BP 801 Abidjan 02, Côte d’Ivoire.

Kouakou Richard Houphouet

Food Biotechnology and Microbiology Laboratory, UFR Food Sciences and Technologies, Nangui Abrogoua University, 02 BP 801 Abidjan 02, Côte d’Ivoire.

Adobi Christian Kadjo *

Food Biotechnology and Microbiology Laboratory, UFR Food Sciences and Technologies, Nangui Abrogoua University, 02 BP 801 Abidjan 02, Côte d’Ivoire.

Konan Mathurin Yao

Laboratory of Biotechnology and Valorization of Agro-resources, UFR Biological Sciences, UPCG University, Korhogo, BP 1328 Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire.

Kra Brou Didier Kédjébo

Food Biotechnology and Microbiology Laboratory, UFR Food Sciences and Technologies, Nangui Abrogoua University, 02 BP 801 Abidjan 02, Côte d’Ivoire.

Koumba Maï Koné

Food Biotechnology and Microbiology Laboratory, UFR Food Sciences and Technologies, Nangui Abrogoua University, 02 BP 801 Abidjan 02, Côte d’Ivoire.

Tagro Simplice Guéhi

Food Biotechnology and Microbiology Laboratory, UFR Food Sciences and Technologies, Nangui Abrogoua University, 02 BP 801 Abidjan 02, Côte d’Ivoire.

Didier Montet

CIRAD, UMR Qualisud, TA B 96/16, 75 Av JF Breton, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France and Qualisud, Univ Montpellier, Avignon, CIRAD, Agro Institute, La Réunion University, Montpellier, France.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Cocoa butter (CB) technological quality and financial value depend widely on the free fatty acids (FFA) content. Cocoa butter has to contain less than 1.75% free fatty acids (FFA, based on oleic acid) to be in compliance with the EU directive 2000/36/EC (2000) and needs to be free from off-flavours and rancidity from a sensory (taste, odour, colour) and technological point of view. Free fatty acids are carboxylic acids, generated from triglycerides via the hydrolysis of their ester bounds by enzymatic and/or chemical reactions. The present work reviews free fatty acids formation mechanisms in cocoa beans, the free fatty acids levels assay as well as possible reduction methods. Furthermore, the impact of high free fatty acids content on the technological and chemical qualities and on the health of consumer of cocoa derived products were described. The results highlighted that the free fatty acids formation in cocoa beans was ascribed to the endogenous and exogenous lipases activities. Excreted exogenous lipases by contaminated molds during poor post-harvest processing are most active for free fatty acids generation in cocoa beans. In addition, the germination, poor storage conditions such as high water activity and moisture content provoke high free fatty acids content in cocoa butter. Although alkalization, deodorization and other refining treatments are efficient methods for reduction of free fatty acids content, chocolate manufacturers recorded high losses in cocoa butter. It is important to eliminate the free fatty acids content of cocoa butter because excessive consumption of high- free fatty acids cocoa product induces pathologies.

Keywords: Cocoa butter, free fatty acids, lipase enzymes, post-harvest processing, biological control

How to Cite

Tape , J. S., Houphouet , K. R., Kadjo , A. C., Yao , K. M., Kédjébo , K. B. D., Koné , K. M., Guéhi , T. S., & Montet , D. (2023). Free Fatty Acids and Cocoa Butter Quality Traits: Causes and Impact on Consumers’ Health. Journal of Advances in Microbiology, 23(3), 21–32.


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