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Symposia on the Environment and Food

Contributions of Chemistry to Sustainable Food Production

Freie Universitat Berlin, August 1999
Thursday August 12, 9:00 - 13:00
Inorganic Chemistry Lecture Hall

Analytical Chemistry Applied to Determining the Authenticity of Foods
Elke Anklam, Prof. Dr., European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, Food Products and Consumer Goods Unit, I-21020 Ispra, ITALY, Email: [email protected]

The adulteration of food products is not a new event. When food became a traded commodity, the potential for fraud became into being. The earliest historical record concerning food refers to issues of food authenticity. However, the means of adulteration have become much more sophisticated in the recent years. Therefore, also authenticity proof has become more challenging for the analysts. The wide range of products deriving from different geographical origins being processed in many different ways makes the analytical work sometimes very difficult.

Consumers expect consistent high quality food, at a reasonable price. The food quality is an important factor in the acceptance, attraction and purchase of a product by the public. Regulations require food quality control to prevent adulteration and frauds such as mislabelling (i.e. changing the geographical origin), sugaring or blending of products, addition of harmful ingredients and additives to maintain the high standards expected. There is a strong need for reliable and validated methods to ensure compliance with such regulation and to protect the interests of the consumer.

Many analytical techniques (e.g. stable isotope analysis by mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance, infrared spectroscopy, chromatography, polymerase chain reaction technique for DNA analysis, immunochemical methods) together with statistical data evaluation are available today for authenticity proof of food products. In principle, two strategies can be applied to detect adulteration: a) fundamental (deductive) approach and b) empirical (inductive) approach.

Selected examples regarding food authenticity/adulteration will be chosen and presented in more detail.

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