Europe: Organic Products Could be Identified by Fingerprinting

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) findings show that there are detectable biochemical differences in the cells of organic and non-organic carrots.

Its research showed that plants grown organically are exposed to more environmental stress than those treated with pesticides, and this exposure results in protective substances building up in the plant’s cells.

These substances, known as metabolites, can be detected by methods such as mass spectrometry, in a field known as metabolomics. Metabolomics in food is gaining traction, but the researchers say that using it for “food authentication issues is still at an early stage” and that more studies with larger sets of data are needed to make the process more robust. The origin of samples can be predicted with this method, and it is the first long-term study of its kind.

In 2015, the European organic food market was valued at EUR 28 billion. Since organic foods command a price premium, there is the potential for non-organic foods to be falsely labelled and marketed as organic. Such fraudulent behaviour has the potential to “negatively impact” the organic industry, according to the JRC.

This is not the first such project to fight fraud. Earlier this year, the EU launched an electronic tracking system to improve the traceability of organic products. It is also collecting more data on organic food trade.

Ecovia Intelligence Comment
Food fraud is now rife in the food industry, with an estimated 1 in 10 food products now adulterated or mislabeled. The recent Brazilian beef scandal highlighted the political and economic implications food fraud can have. Organic foods are vulnerable because of their high prices, so it is of paramount importance to protect their.

Food fraud and approaches to mitigate food fraud risks, as well as analytical methods, will be featured in upcoming editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit. The Latin American edition will take place in São Paulo on 18-20th September, whilst the Asia-Pacific edition will be hosted in Singapore on 28-30th November. More details are on the website

Related Insights: Food Traceability Gaining Popularity as Consumers Demand Transparency

Source: News Release / Ecovia Intelligence (12/08)