Lipid oxidation in food emulsions is mediated by emulsifiers in the water phase and at the oil–water interface. To unravel the physico-chemical mechanisms and to obtain local lipid and protein oxidation rates, we used confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), thereby monitoring changes in both the fluorescence emission of a lipophilic dye BODIPY 665/676 and protein auto-fluorescence. Our data show that the removal of lipid-soluble antioxidants from mayonnaises promotes lipid oxidation within oil droplets as well as protein oxidation at the oil–water interface. Furthermore, we demonstrate that ascorbic acid acts as either a lipid antioxidant or pro-oxidant depending on the presence of lipid-soluble antioxidants. The effects of antioxidant formulation on local lipid and protein oxidation rates were all statistically significant (p
< 0.0001). The observed protein oxidation at the oil–water interface was spatially heterogeneous, which is in line with the heterogeneous distribution of lipoprotein granules from the egg yolk used for emulsification. The impact of the droplet size on local lipid and protein oxidation rates was significant (p
< 0.0001) but minor compared to the effects of ascorbic acid addition and lipid-soluble antioxidant depletion. The presented results demonstrate that CLSM can be applied for unraveling the roles of colloidal structure and transport in mediating lipid oxidation in complex food emulsions.
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