Authenticity testing of cereals and related foodstuffs using IRMS and various spectral fingerprints – a work in progress

Stefan Bindereif1, Stephan Schwarzinger2, Peter Kolb2, Jasmin Kniese3, Nina Hoffmann4, Holger Willms5, Stefan Blindeneder6, Heinar Schmidt3, Gerhard Gebauer1
1 BayCEER – Laboratory of Isotope Biogeochemistry, University of Bayreuth, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany
2 Department of Biopolymers, University of Bayreuth, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany
3 Chair of Bioanalytical Sciences and Food Analysis, University of Bayreuth, 95326 Kulmbach, Germany
4 ALNuMed GmbH, 95448 Bayreuth, Germany
5 IREKS GmbH, 95326 Kulmbach, Germany
6 AGROLAB GmbH, 84079 Bruckberg, Germany

P 7 in Open Poster Session

Nowadays, a customer’s purchase decision is drastically influenced by the authenticity of given food product. Parameters like traditional and organic production as well as protected origin and high-quality varieties significantly gained in importance. Several food fraud scandals have not only caused massive economical damage, they also led to a loss of consumer trust in the industry. In 2013, the European parliament implemented an action plan and released a protocol, naming cereals and related products at number five of the top ten foodstuffs that are most at risk of food fraud.

Therefore, we aim to develop and combine scientific methods that enable the detection of varietal purity, cultivation method, quality and geographical origin of various cereals along the entire value chain including processed goods. We perform Raman spectroscopy, NIR, NMR, LC-MS and IRMS measurements of up to 1000 cereal samples per year.

Up to this point, we were able to correctly classify samples according to harvest year and cereal species. Consequently, we successfully identified falsification of spelt flour with cheaper wheat flour. Furthermore, we found good correlations between flour quality parameters from traditional approaches and our data from modern techniques. Using IRMS, a first trend towards the differentiation between conventionally and organically produced samples could be observed. Finally, we performed baking experiments and found markers for the comparison of flours and respective baked products, potentially enabling traceability of raw materials. Classification in terms of geographical origin was already possible, however, the number of samples analysed up until now is too low for the creation of solid statistical models and valuable measurements of δ2H are pending.

In conclusion, we are convinced that our multi-method approach provides the large number of parameters required to create an effective tool for authenticity testing of cereals and related foodstuffs.

Keywords: Cereals, Method combination, Multivariate statistics, Food forensics, Traceability
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