EU project shows spectrometry tool can spot food fraud

Scientists at the EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) have shown that a lab technique called energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (ED-XRF) can identify food fraud, including non-organic products passed off as organic.

By combining ED-XRF with pattern recognition techniques, the team say they can develop methods that can distinguish food samples according to a range of criteria such as their origin and product system, including whether or not they are organic.

The plant species, the environment where it is grown and how it is grown has a lasting influence on the elemental composition of food, according to the JRC team. The higher price consumers have to pay for organic products, or those produced in a specific geographical region for example, makes them an attractive target for fraudsters.

"We need versatile and rapid technologies that can be applied to different matrices, that are field deployable, and do not require highly qualified operators," explains JRC scientist Beatriz de la Calle Guntiñas.

The scientists found striking differences in the elemental "fingerprint" of food based on its geographical as well as botanical origin, manufacturing processes and agricultural production system.

Recording this fingerprint and extracting information from the data using machine learning can help verify a claim made about the origin of a product or the production system, they note.

The team has already used the approach for a number of applications, including differentiating coconut sugar from cane sugar, identifying honey made in different regions, and distinguishing organic from conventionally grown paprika powder, cinnamon, coffee, chocolate, and tea, amongst others.

The work is described in the journal Talanta Open.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top