The orange-red colour of fresh CPO is due to the presence of corotenoid (carotene-like) pigments.There are are more than 200 different carotenes in nature, but those present in PO are alpha and beta carotenes at about 35% and 56% respectively. In fact PO is probably the richest source of these two carotenes in nature.The Malaysian standard for PO, MS 814: 1994, gives a content of 500 to 1000 ppm carotenoids, but the usual level is around 500 to 700 ppm. Alpha and beta carotene are among the most important ones, because in the human body they are converted to vitamin A. Lack of this vitamin causes a variety of disorders, including blindness in children and the UN has estimated that about 200,000 children in the world are suffering from this disorder and could be cured, if given some CPO or red olein, with their food.
Carotenes are also important indicators of CPO quality. With prolonged storage, the carotenes in it oxidise and its colour changes gradually from bright orange-red to muddy brown. So by just looking at it, experienced operators can tell a lot about its quality.