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Detecting food fraud

Detecting food fraud


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There's undoubtedly more than one way to do this, but if a DIY biologist were to attempt to detect food fraud (e.g. as done by students from Stanford University and Trinity School, Manhattan with respect to fish samples from markets and sushi restaurants), then what would be the minimum steps and equipment?

(I know barely anything about molecular genetics, but have been reading about DremelFuge, OpenPCR, and Blue Transilluminator, and wondered whether they - or things like them - might get such an investigator some of the way towards the goal above; and what else would be required.)


There are several ways you could go about identifying species through DNA. If you want to do everything yourself, the simplest option in terms of equipment needed consists of evaluating fragment lengths observed during gel electrophoresis after amplifying specific DNA sequences using PCR.

If you are content with some outsourcing, you can also send DNA samples to a commercial company for sequence analysis.

A compromise between these options in terms of information obtained, is to do study Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) by amplifying DNA fragments and using restriction enzymes to cut the fragments, before analyzing the fragmentation pattern using gel electrophoresis. To perform RFLP analysis, you would need to obtain restriction enzymes in addition to the chemicals mentioned below, and they can be a bit pricey.

The minimum equipment would consist of a PCR machine, one or more pipettes with matching pipette tips, a gel electrophoresis tray with power supply and a transilluminator (preferably blue-light/non-UV). A centrifuge is not strictly necessary, but can be useful for processing/filtering your DNA source.

Some chemicals will also be needed: Polymerase and dNTPs for the PCR reaction (or a pre-made "master mix" containing both), electrophoresis-grade agarose and running buffer for the electrophoresis, along with a DNA dye specific to the type of transilluminator (Usually UV or blue light). For a blue-light transilluminator, GelGreen is a suitable DNA dye. You will also want to use a "loading dye" to mix in your DNA sample before applying it to the electrophoresis gel. This can either be purchased or prepared yourself by mixing sugar and food coloring in water.

You need some form of heating to dissolve the agarose - a microwave oven is convenient for this, but take care to avoid over-heating, glass explosions or flash boiling. It is convenient but not strictly necessary to have some lab glassware. Preferably use a screw-top bottle to mix your agarose solution. Always leave the top off when heating bottles.

Photographic equipment can be also useful for documenting results of gel electrophoresis.

Finally, you will need single-stranded DNA oligomers (primers) specific to the DNA regions you want to amplify. DNA primers can be bought from a number of companies, but it varies how easy it is for non-affiliated individuals to order and make payments. Macrogen has been my choice: They both deliver DNA primers and perform DNA sequencing.

You may be interested in the following thread on the DIY Bio e-mail group: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/diybio/cPzfEuiZH58

I have collected some of the primer sequences mentioned in the thread on a page on OpenWetware: http://openwetware.org/wiki/User:Jarle_Pahr/Meat


This can in principle be done at least partly with DIY methods, by using PCR followed by gel electrophoresis. The DremelFuge, OpenPCR, and Blue Transilluminator would be the primary tools, along with pipettes, test tubes, autoclave (or equivalent), etc.

For a clear video demonstration of using PCR to amplify DNA from various samples, as well as a PDF containing the details of the protocol used, see www.dnabarcoding101.org. That procedure would be followed by using gel electrophoresis on a small portion of the amplified product, to check that the product appears to be of adequate quality for sequencing. If so, then the remaining portion of the product can be sent to a lab for sequencing.

Alternatively, by using a suitable primer for each species one wishes to test for, one could check for the presence of that species using PCR and gel electrophoresis alone.


Modern analytical methods for the detection of food fraud and adulteration by food category

This review provides current information on the analytical methods used to identify food adulteration in the six most adulterated food categories: animal origin and seafood, oils and fats, beverages, spices and sweet foods (e.g. honey), grain-based food, and others (organic food and dietary supplements). The analytical techniques (both conventional and emerging) used to identify adulteration in these six food categories involve sensory, physicochemical, DNA-based, chromatographic and spectroscopic methods, and have been combined with chemometrics, making these techniques more convenient and effective for the analysis of a broad variety of food products. Despite recent advances, the need remains for suitably sensitive and widely applicable methodologies that encompass all the various aspects of food adulteration. © 2017 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: adulteration analytical methods food authentication food categories fraud geographical origin.


Food scientists: We can detect much more food fraud

Researchers from University of Copenhagen have reviewed the use of NIR spectroscopy to detect food fraud in a special issue of the scientific journal Current Opinion in Food Science, which reports on food science innovation.

"The problem is that the food analyses which are predominantly used today are only spot checks and they are typically targeted towards a single kind of food fraud. We would like to move away with this old-school methodology and instead take a "non-targeted" physicochemical fingerprint of the foodstuffs. By using fingerprints and contrasts we can determine whether a given batch of raw materials or ingredients are defective or different compared to the usual," says co-author of the article Professor Soren Balling Engelsen from the Department of Food Science (FOOD), at University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The article mentions the case from 2008, where Chinese manufacturers added melamine to milk powder for infant formula, causing 300,000 children to fall ill and 6 deaths. Melamine is a synthetic substance with 66% nitrogen and it was added to the milk powder to make customers believe that it contained more protein than was actually the case and thus had a higher value. The fraud succeeded tragically, because "protein content" was checked using the old Kjeldahl method - a method of analysis that measures the total nitrogen content in the food, which is then equated with the protein content. In this case, the detected substance was not protein, but the hazardous to your health melamine nitrogen.

"Now there is probably no longer anyone who would think about putting melamine in milk powder. An alternative nitrogen-rich substance could be Urea, or in popular terms "piss in the powder", where nitrogen rich urea is used to fool the Kjeldahl analysis - but not NIR spectroscopy," says Soren Balling Engelsen.

NIR spectroscopy is already used, but not enough

Another advantage of NIR spectroscopy is that you can examine large quantities of raw materials or ingredients. With spectroscopic monitoring it is possible to examine close to 100% of the ingredients and raw materials that goes into the production, thereby considerably reducing production errors or productions that are of a lower quality than the recipe dictates. At the same time, the company can use the method to optimise its consumption of raw materials and to achieve a consistent, environmentally and safe production.

A good example of a food ingredient that can be manipulated by the suppliers is the desirable gum arabic (E414), which has some valuable properties as a stabiliser, chewing properties and flavour release. Gum arabic is found in Ga-Jol, for example.

"However, it is easy to adulterate food with gum arabic, when it appears in the form of freeze-dried powder, which many suppliers have gradually started to sell. Previously, it was found most often in the form of "tears" from the acacia tree - that is, as large amber-like clumps that cannot be easily forged. But it has been difficult to obtain high quality gum arabic because of the war and unrest in the growing areas (South Sudan). As a powder, it is easy to falsify the gum arabic by mixing an inferior quality with the good and sell it all as being of a high quality. This kind of fraud can also be detected by NIR spectroscopy," says Soren Balling Engelsen.

The methods are already being used in parts of the food industry, but according to the researchers it is far from being widespread enough.

"We have known and developed these methods for 20 years and they have become better and cheaper over time. The use of NIR spectroscopy to monitor food quality was already endorsed in the 1970s when Canada began to replace the chemical requiring and cumbersome Kjeldahl analysis with NIR spectroscopy to analyse their cereals for the protein content. For this purpose, NIR spectroscopy is exclusively used as a targeted method i.e. for measuring protein content. But when you want to detect food fraud and food adulteration, you are not looking for a single substance, but have to look broadly. An increased use of NIR spectroscopy will definitely be able to save us from many forms of food modification that could be of more or less serious kinds - from receiving lower quality products to becoming seriously ill," says Soren Balling Engelsen.

3 types of food modifications

In the article in Current Opinion in Food Science, the researchers defined the following 3 degrees of undesired modifications of food:

Intentional misrepresentation of foods, food raw materials and ingredients, typically with the aim of artificially augmenting the quality of the food item. This include the use of prohibited substances, contamination of the product and other non-compliances to product descriptions. Food fraud includes the melamine example and in many cases can be detected by NIR spectroscopy.

Undeclared introduction of an additional cheaper substance to foods, food raw materials and ingredients with the aim of artificially augmenting the quantity of the authentic food item. Adulteration testing is both qualitative and quantitative. Food adulteration includes the gum arabic example and in many cases can be detected by NIR spectroscopy.

Refers to the truthfulness of the quality of foods, food raw materials and ingredients including the origin, variety, orginal production recipes, producers, applied methods, geographical location and time. Authenticity testing is not quantitative and could be detected by NIR spectroscopy to a limited extent.

Near-infrared spectroscopy can provide a physicochemical fingerprint of a biological sample (e.g. a foodstuff). This is done by sending light into the foodstuff and measuring the light that is sent back. The fingerprint will often contain 1000+ spectral variables that each relate to the physicochemical composition of the foodstuff in their own unique way.

You can hold this fingerprint (called a spectrum) against a validated fingerprint of the same sample material by using multivariate data analysis (chemometrics). The measurement will detect fluctuations in many different ingredients at once, which is why it is a "non-targeted" method of analysis.

Article "The use of rapid spectroscopic screening methods to detect adulteration of food raw materials and ingredients" published as an expert opinion in the scientific journal Current Opinion in Food Science

The authors from the Department of Food Science at University of Copenhagen include: Postdoc Klavs Martin Sorensen, postdoc Bekzod Khakimov and Professor Soren Balling Engelsen.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


Food scientists: We can detect much more food fraud

To the right is gum arabic of a high quality in the form of "tears" from the acacia tree Acacia senegal, which has been difficult to obtain at times because of conflicts in the growing areas. To the left is gum arabic of a much lower and more impure quality from the tree Acacia seyal. Gum arabic is used in Ga-Jol, where it provides the unique chewing and flavor release sensation. Credit: Lene H. Koss.

Researchers from University of Copenhagen have reviewed the use of NIR spectroscopy to detect food fraud in a special issue of the scientific journal Current Opinion in Food Science, which reports on food science innovation.

"The problem is that the food analyses which are predominantly used today are only spot checks and they are typically targeted towards a single kind of food fraud. We would like to move away with this old-school methodology and instead take a "non-targeted" physicochemical fingerprint of the foodstuffs. By using fingerprints and contrasts we can determine whether a given batch of raw materials or ingredients are defective or different compared to the usual," says co-author of the article Professor Soren Balling Engelsen from the Department of Food Science (FOOD), at University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The article mentions the case from 2008, where Chinese manufacturers added melamine to milk powder for infant formula, causing 300,000 children to fall ill and 6 deaths. Melamine is a synthetic substance with 66% nitrogen and it was added to the milk powder to make customers believe that it contained more protein than was actually the case and thus had a higher value. The fraud succeeded tragically, because "protein content" was checked using the old Kjeldahl method - a method of analysis that measures the total nitrogen content in the food, which is then equated with the protein content. In this case, the detected substance was not protein, but the hazardous to your health melamine nitrogen.

With spectroscopic monitoring it is possible to examine all of the ingredients and raw materials that goes into the production and at the same time optimise its consumption of raw materials and to achieve a consistent, environmentally and safe production. Credit: Sørensen et al.

"Now there is probably no longer anyone who would think about putting melamine in milk powder. An alternative nitrogen-rich substance could be Urea, or in popular terms "piss in the powder", where nitrogen rich urea is used to fool the Kjeldahl analysis - but not NIR spectroscopy," says Soren Balling Engelsen.

NIR spectroscopy is already used, but not enough

Another advantage of NIR spectroscopy is that you can examine large quantities of raw materials or ingredients. With spectroscopic monitoring it is possible to examine close to 100% of the ingredients and raw materials that goes into the production, thereby considerably reducing production errors or productions that are of a lower quality than the recipe dictates. At the same time, the company can use the method to optimise its consumption of raw materials and to achieve a consistent, environmentally and safe production.

Much more food fraud coud be detected by using Near-infrared spectroscopy says researcers from the Department of Food Science at University of Copenhagen. Credit: Sørensen et al.

A good example of a food ingredient that can be manipulated by the suppliers is the desirable gum arabic (E414), which has some valuable properties as a stabiliser, chewing properties and flavour release. Gum arabic is found in Ga-Jol, for example.

"However, it is easy to adulterate food with gum arabic, when it appears in the form of freeze-dried powder, which many suppliers have gradually started to sell. Previously, it was found most often in the form of "tears" from the acacia tree - that is, as large amber-like clumps that cannot be easily forged. But it has been difficult to obtain high quality gum arabic because of the war and unrest in the growing areas (South Sudan). As a powder, it is easy to falsify the gum arabic by mixing an inferior quality with the good and sell it all as being of a high quality. This kind of fraud can also be detected by NIR spectroscopy," says Soren Balling Engelsen.

The methods are already being used in parts of the food industry, but according to the researchers it is far from being widespread enough.


Food Identification and Organized Crime

Food fraud is big business. Some estimates put the economic cost of food fraud as high as US$40 billion, an order of magnitude greater than the entire global herb and spice trade in 2017. The sheer scale of global food trade, combined with often opaque supply chains, creates incentives to reduce costs at every step, including by selling inferior products as if they were premium versions. Although many incidents can be traced back to individual unscrupulous operators, food fraud is also a major money-making avenue for organized crime syndicates. Food is much easier to move between jurisdictions than drugs, weapons and other organized-crime mainstays, and food fraud carries much smaller legal penalties. For these reasons, it’s becoming a larger part of the syndicates&rsquo strategies. Fighting food fraud is crucial to help end the violence that these organizations inflict.

Perhaps the most famous incidence of food fraud by an organized crime syndicate is the production of fraudulent olive oil by an Italian criminal organization. Olive oil can be extracted from olives in a variety of ways, but extra virgin olive oil must be produced by purely mechanical processes with no solvents or similar aids. Extra virgin olive oil has a distinctive color, chemistry and flavor profile that has been highly regarded around the world for thousands of years. The Italian and other organized crime syndicates use solvents to extract inferior grades of olive oil from the waste produced by legitimate extra-virgin processing facilities, which they then present as the coveted extra virgin. Outside of olive-growing countries in the Mediterranean, familiarity with true extra virgin olive oil is often limited, making it easy for unaware consumers to accept inferior products. Crime syndicates usually undercut the prices of their legitimate competitors, shutting them out of all but boutique status. And in places such as the United States, terms such as &ldquoextra virgin&rdquo are not regulated the way that they are in Europe, limiting the ability of external authorities to intervene. Thanks to this persistent and intentional mislabeling, extra-virgin olive oil represents about 10% of all olive oil produced worldwide but up to 50% of the olive oil on store shelves, and the proceeds fund the other activities of organized crime.

Food fraud is so widespread that the international-policing organizations Interpol and Europol conduct joint operations to combat it and prosecute those who engage in it. A recent joint operation, Opson V, confiscated over 10,000 metric tons and 100 million liters of adulterated, often hazardous food. Their worldwide finds included olives and spices painted with dangerous dyes to mask their low quality, sugar mixed with fertilizer, and plots to sell inferior alcohol using stolen premium labels. Other common food-adulteration methods include mixing saffron with bits of red silk or non-flavored flower parts, blending turmeric with other related roots, and reducing the expense of nutmeg by adding coffee husks.

Detecting food adulteration is not simply a matter of making sure people get their money&rsquos worth at the grocery store or restaurant. Some adulteration practices are dangerous or carry allergen risks. In 2012, the United States and Canada imposed widespread product recalls in response to cumin adulterated with peanuts, including thousands of products made commercially with contaminated cumin, after dozens of people suffered severe reactions due to the undisclosed allergen. The toxic dye Sudan 1 was discovered as a color enhancer in chili powder sold in the EU in 2005, leading to investigations and new laws regarding food additives. The British Food Standards Agency observed an increase from 49 reported adulteration incidents in the UK in 2007 to 1,538 in 2013, and the problem shows no signs of slowing down.

Detecting adulterated and fraudulent food is a challenge due to the range of methods available for presenting food as something it is not. Biological substitutions are often observable through genetic testing, and Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a broad suite of DNA-based tests for food authenticity, including the Thermo Scientific Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Food Authenticity Workflow for identifying the species present in a food sample and detecting specific, common adulterants. Other tools can target products and contaminants that contain little or no DNA, including oils and minerals. Infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry are the premier tools for recognizing and identifying contaminants in food and can even offer insight into the origins of particular batches via isotopic analysis. With these advanced biological techniques, food suppliers can protect their supply chains from unscrupulous vendors and consumers can rest easy that their extra virgin olive oil is genuine.

Read more about Thermo Fisher Scientific&rsquos next-generation sequencing workflow for fish, meat and plant species, and learn how other food authenticity tools can help you achieve your food-identification goals, in our food and beverage community pages.


Secondary project briefs (ages 11+)

Bronze Awards are typically completed by students aged 11+. They complete a ten-hour project which is a perfect introduction to STEM project work. Over the course of the project, teams of students design their own investigation, record their findings, and reflect on their learnings. This process gives students a taste of what it is like to be a scientist or engineer in the real-world.

Silver Awards are typically completed by students aged 14+ over thirty hours. Project work at Silver level is designed to stretch your students and enrich their STEM studies. Students direct the project, determining the project’s aim and how they will achieve it. They carry out the project, record and analyse their results and reflect on the project and their learnings. All Silver projects are assessed by CREST assessors via our online platform.

Gold Awards are typically completed by students aged 16+ over seventy hours. Students’ projects are self-directed, longer term and immerse them in real research. At this level, we recommend students work with a mentor from their chosen STEM field of study. All Gold projects are assessed by CREST assessors via our online platform. There are more CREST approved resources that have been developed by our partners and providers specific to your region.

There are more CREST approved resources that have been developed by our partners and providers specific to your region.

Find out how to build practical CREST projects into secondary science lessons using our free teacher guidance pack. Supporting this guidance are easy-to-use, free-to-download mapping workbooks, which match individual Bronze, Silver and Gold CREST Award projects with each area of the secondary science curricula for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You can download and save your own copy of the relevant mapping workbook via the following links:


A flavour of omics approaches for the detection of food fraud

Food fraud is an emerging global problem with economic, social, health and environmental impacts.

Very recent omics studies to detect food authenticity and integrity are highlighted.

The potential of integrated omics technologies and related approaches to reduce food fraud are forwarded.

Impacts include increased food security, less food waste, reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Interdisciplinary collaboration across multiple fields is essential, with the potential for food systems being far more resilient to withstand future food shocks.

Food fraud has been identified as an increasing problem on a global scale with wide-ranging economic, social, health and environmental impacts. Omics and their related techniques, approaches, and bioanalytical platforms incorporate a significant number of scientific areas which have the potential to be applied to and significantly reduce food fraud and its negative impacts. In this overview we consider a selected number of very recent studies where omics techniques were applied to detect food authenticity and could be implemented to ensure food integrity. We postulate that significant reductions in food fraud, with the assistance of omics technologies and other approaches, will result in less food waste, decreases in energy use as well as greenhouse gas emissions, and as a direct consequence of this, increases in quality, productivity, yields, and the ability of food systems to be more resilient and able to withstand future food shocks.


Special Issue Editor

Recent food crises have underlined how the problem of fraud detection and contaminant prevention is real and urgent, and it pinpoints the necessity for more effective and protective array of quality control methods. The improvement should include technologies, analytical methods, and data analysis. Fingerprinting approaches coupled with powerful chemometric algorithms have proved to be a great ally for food fraud detection. On the other hand, sensitive and accurate instrumentation is often required to assure effective contaminant control, although many emerging contaminants need smart sample preparation rather than powerful instrumentation.

The target of this Special Issue is to present the state-of-the-art of rapid detection methods for food fraud and food contaminants. Papers dealing with the optimization of sample preparation, analytical approaches, and data handling will be presented.

Prof. Giorgia Purcaro
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Foods is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Nye metoder kan afsløre snyd med krydderier

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Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark : Technical University of Denmark, 2019. 113 p.

Research output : Book/Report › Ph.D. thesis

T1 - Detection of Food Fraud in high value products - Exemplary authentication studies on Vanilla, Black Pepper and Bergamot oil

N2 - The food label is providing information about the food's content and origin. Consumers rely on the trustworthiness of a given label, since the possibility to evaluate a product based on visual examination is often limited. Their buying decisions are therefore often influenced by the information and advertisement given on the food packaging. When a label is intentionally used to give the consumer an -apparently better- but misleading description of the food product, it is often done for economical gain. These cases of food fraud are called "economically motivated adulteration". The EU No. 1169/2011 provides the basis for a high level of consumer protection with respect to food information. Here, Art.7 clearly states that food information shall not be misleading. Beyond the consumer interest, food fraud is also a major issue in the trade chain from business to business: Fraud leads to an unfair competition and it furthermore includes a high risk for brand reputation. Analytical methods constitute an essential part of the strategies to fight food fraud. Suitable analytical methods must be applied to reveal food fraud and also to proof the authenticity of food products along complex supply chains. In this thesis, three different commodities, namely vanilla, black pepper and bergamot oil were investigated with respect to authentication by targeted as well as non-targeted analysis. Vanilla is one of the most popular flavours in the world. It is highly vulnerable to economically motivated adulteration as the main component vanillin can be derived by much cheaper production methods than by the extraction from vanilla pods. For an authentication testing of vanilla flavour, it is important to distinguish three categories: vanillin from vanilla pods, synthetic vanillin and natural biosynthetic vanillin also called biovanillin. Vanilla flavour can be sold in different variations, as vanilla pods, vanilla powder, vanilla extracts, pure vanillin or incorporated in composite food products. Each of these variations has different requirements and opportunities regarding the possible authentication testing of vanillin. This thesis provides an overview about different authentication testing methods of vanillin and their respective potential and limitations. One very often used indicator for the authenticity of vanillin is the analysis of the carbon isotope ratio of the vanillin molecule. The carbon isotope ratio values for synthetic or biosynthetic vanillin derived from petroleum and C3 plants can be distinguished from carbon isotope ratios range for vanillin from vanilla pods. In manuscript 1, an easy sample preparation procedure to determine the carbon isotope ratio of vanillin in complex food products by headspace solid-phase micro extraction and gas chromatography coupled to isotope ratio mass spectrometry is presented. The method was applied to 23 commercial food samples including vanilla sugar, dairy, and soy products, and some of these (22%) were highly suspicious to be fraud. However, the carbon isotope ratio value of the vanillin has some restriction as authentication parameter. In the last couple of years new biosynthetic pathways have been invented, which can produce biovanillin with a carbon isotopic ratio typical for vanillin from vanilla pods. The production of biosynthetic vanillin from glucose by yeast is the latest development. In manuscript 2, we present an isotopic characterisation of vanillin ex glucose by GC-IRMS. This is the first time, a 13C value for biovanillin is reported that is higher compared to vanillin from vanilla pods. The possibility to simulate the 13C range of vanillin from vanilla pods by combining vanillin derived from inexpensive sources constitutes an increased risk for fraud being perpetrated while remaining unnoticed. This study therefore also demonstrates that authentication strategies need to be dynamic and continuously adjusted to new market situations. Black pepper, the second commodity investigated in this thesis, is the most widely used spice in the world. Spices are highly vulnerable to economically motivated adulteration as they are high value products and traded along complex supply chains. The main fraud opportunity is to add cheaper bulking materials. Near and Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy has been combined with chemometrics to screen for the substitution of black pepper with papaya seeds, chili and with nonfunctional black pepper material such as black pepper husk, pinheads and defatted spent materials. This study, presented in manuscript 3, shows the huge potential for a fast and rapid screening method that can be used to both prove the authenticity of black pepper and detect adulterants. Finally, an authentication testing of bergamot oil by targeted analysis was conducted. Authentic and commercial bergamot oil samples have been analysed by chiral GC-MS analysis. The presence of synthetic compounds known to be used for adulteration of bergamot oil was checked in commercial bergamot oil samples. Based on this analysis, a high percentage (54%) of the commercial bergamot oil samples that were bought online were suspicious to be adulterated. Additionally, the GC-MS dataset was decomposed by parallel factor analysis 2 (PARAFAC2) and a first data evaluation approach using non-targeted analysis is presented. There is no magic solution for authenticity testing, but powerful detection tools are available. It will be a continuous task to find the methods that are suitable for an effective control along the food supply chains. Even though it is an unrealistic aim to detect every single adulterated product, analytical detection methods can very efficiently contribute to a general deterrence strategy that puts every fraudster on a significant risk of being apprehended. With the same strategy, seriously operating companies can be protected from brand risk and unfair competition.

AB - The food label is providing information about the food's content and origin. Consumers rely on the trustworthiness of a given label, since the possibility to evaluate a product based on visual examination is often limited. Their buying decisions are therefore often influenced by the information and advertisement given on the food packaging. When a label is intentionally used to give the consumer an -apparently better- but misleading description of the food product, it is often done for economical gain. These cases of food fraud are called "economically motivated adulteration". The EU No. 1169/2011 provides the basis for a high level of consumer protection with respect to food information. Here, Art.7 clearly states that food information shall not be misleading. Beyond the consumer interest, food fraud is also a major issue in the trade chain from business to business: Fraud leads to an unfair competition and it furthermore includes a high risk for brand reputation. Analytical methods constitute an essential part of the strategies to fight food fraud. Suitable analytical methods must be applied to reveal food fraud and also to proof the authenticity of food products along complex supply chains. In this thesis, three different commodities, namely vanilla, black pepper and bergamot oil were investigated with respect to authentication by targeted as well as non-targeted analysis. Vanilla is one of the most popular flavours in the world. It is highly vulnerable to economically motivated adulteration as the main component vanillin can be derived by much cheaper production methods than by the extraction from vanilla pods. For an authentication testing of vanilla flavour, it is important to distinguish three categories: vanillin from vanilla pods, synthetic vanillin and natural biosynthetic vanillin also called biovanillin. Vanilla flavour can be sold in different variations, as vanilla pods, vanilla powder, vanilla extracts, pure vanillin or incorporated in composite food products. Each of these variations has different requirements and opportunities regarding the possible authentication testing of vanillin. This thesis provides an overview about different authentication testing methods of vanillin and their respective potential and limitations. One very often used indicator for the authenticity of vanillin is the analysis of the carbon isotope ratio of the vanillin molecule. The carbon isotope ratio values for synthetic or biosynthetic vanillin derived from petroleum and C3 plants can be distinguished from carbon isotope ratios range for vanillin from vanilla pods. In manuscript 1, an easy sample preparation procedure to determine the carbon isotope ratio of vanillin in complex food products by headspace solid-phase micro extraction and gas chromatography coupled to isotope ratio mass spectrometry is presented. The method was applied to 23 commercial food samples including vanilla sugar, dairy, and soy products, and some of these (22%) were highly suspicious to be fraud. However, the carbon isotope ratio value of the vanillin has some restriction as authentication parameter. In the last couple of years new biosynthetic pathways have been invented, which can produce biovanillin with a carbon isotopic ratio typical for vanillin from vanilla pods. The production of biosynthetic vanillin from glucose by yeast is the latest development. In manuscript 2, we present an isotopic characterisation of vanillin ex glucose by GC-IRMS. This is the first time, a 13C value for biovanillin is reported that is higher compared to vanillin from vanilla pods. The possibility to simulate the 13C range of vanillin from vanilla pods by combining vanillin derived from inexpensive sources constitutes an increased risk for fraud being perpetrated while remaining unnoticed. This study therefore also demonstrates that authentication strategies need to be dynamic and continuously adjusted to new market situations. Black pepper, the second commodity investigated in this thesis, is the most widely used spice in the world. Spices are highly vulnerable to economically motivated adulteration as they are high value products and traded along complex supply chains. The main fraud opportunity is to add cheaper bulking materials. Near and Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy has been combined with chemometrics to screen for the substitution of black pepper with papaya seeds, chili and with nonfunctional black pepper material such as black pepper husk, pinheads and defatted spent materials. This study, presented in manuscript 3, shows the huge potential for a fast and rapid screening method that can be used to both prove the authenticity of black pepper and detect adulterants. Finally, an authentication testing of bergamot oil by targeted analysis was conducted. Authentic and commercial bergamot oil samples have been analysed by chiral GC-MS analysis. The presence of synthetic compounds known to be used for adulteration of bergamot oil was checked in commercial bergamot oil samples. Based on this analysis, a high percentage (54%) of the commercial bergamot oil samples that were bought online were suspicious to be adulterated. Additionally, the GC-MS dataset was decomposed by parallel factor analysis 2 (PARAFAC2) and a first data evaluation approach using non-targeted analysis is presented. There is no magic solution for authenticity testing, but powerful detection tools are available. It will be a continuous task to find the methods that are suitable for an effective control along the food supply chains. Even though it is an unrealistic aim to detect every single adulterated product, analytical detection methods can very efficiently contribute to a general deterrence strategy that puts every fraudster on a significant risk of being apprehended. With the same strategy, seriously operating companies can be protected from brand risk and unfair competition.

BT - Detection of Food Fraud in high value products - Exemplary authentication studies on Vanilla, Black Pepper and Bergamot oil


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Metal detection and X-ray inspection can help cut product loss

Rapid Testing Lowers Risk of Fraud – ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Food fraud is surprisingly not a modern day problem. References to fraudulent food activity can be traced back as early as the Romans, but it is generally regarded as the Victorian’s who put food fraud on the map. History recognizes Frederick Accum as being the first person to attempt to expose the nature and extent,… [Read More]

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Watch the video: metal detector for food industry (May 2022).


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