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Improving safety and quality of food [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

Quality assessment is fundamental for maintaining the highest safety and nutritional standards of foodstuffs. Foods can be adulterated, either by mistake or through fraud. To cope with this problem, the EU has spent almost EUR 170 000 for a project which developed novel food t...
Improving safety and quality of food
Quality assessment is fundamental for maintaining the highest safety and nutritional standards of foodstuffs. Foods can be adulterated, either by mistake or through fraud. To cope with this problem, the EU has spent almost EUR 170 000 for a project which developed novel food testing methods.

FATAUTHENTICATION ('Authentication of fats and fat products used in food and feed') focused on analysing techniques for checking the authenticity of a wide range of fat products. Fats and oils are directly consumed by humans, but are also used as ingredients in many food products, such as pastry and sauces, and in feed fed to farm animals.

Project researchers, led by the Foundation for Agricultural Research Service in the Netherlands, set out to identify specific chemical markers that could authenticate food and feeds. The team developed profiles for specific fats, and assigned identification classifications.

The scientists analysed test results by using complex statistical techniques, and developing new statistical models. These models can now be used for spotting adulterants.

For example, the team developed a method for determining the origin and authenticity of organic feed intended for laying hens. The method provides an important test for ensuring consumers are not defrauded into buying eggs labelled as 'organic', but which are instead from hens fed with non-organic feed.

The team collected fatty acid fingerprinting data from 36 organic and 60 conventional feeds. From these samples, the team developed a classification model. The model can be used to test whether chicken feed is organic or conventional. Test results indicate that the model could be routinely used to verify the identity of unknown or suspicious feed fed to laying hens.

The researchers also evaluated the near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and found out that it provides a rapid and cost-effective screening tool for controlling the quality of hens' feed, while the fatty acid fingerprinting model can be used for further confirmation of the organic identity of the feed samples.

These methods would provide an important backup to the administrative controls currently used in Europe's organic feed sector.

Other research conducted in the project included tests of proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) combined with chemometrics to authenticate extra virgin olive oil. The scientists developed and validated a model for single varietal olive oil authentication by analysing samples of extra virgin olive oil from five different varieties of olive fruit (Arbequina, Cornicabra, Frantoio, Hojiblanca, and Picual).

They discovered that the PTR-MS method provides a new valuable tool for extra virgin olive oil classification according to variety, and it could serve as a screening technique for the authentication of monovarietal extra virgin olive oil. The method could also be used to test whether a variety of oil is the same as is claimed on the label.

FATAUTHENTICATION, which completed its work in October 2012, received funding from the EU as part of an overall strategy of supporting research that helps to improve safety along Europe's food chain and to protect consumers.
Source: FATAUTHENTICATION

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Subjects

Agriculture - Food
Record Number: 35938 / Last updated on: 2013-08-01
Category: Project
Provider: EC