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DEVELOPMENT OF A COMMON METHODOLOGY FOR FOOD PRODUCT AUTHENTICATION BASED ON METABOLIC MODEL IDENTIFICATION AND LEADING TO EUROPEAN STANDARDIZATION PROPOSITIONS

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The project concerns developing a common methodology for food product authentication based on metabolic model identification, leading to proposals for European standardization. This approach is necessary as many adulterations of final products (eg. fruit juices) remain undetected despite continuous and expensive precautions/safeguards. These, in the case of fruit juices, include a European directive, a European code of practice, internationally agreed analytical methods, several databases, and professional associations. The first element of the project is database management which deals with three kinds of parameters: monovariate parameters such as glucose, multivariate parameters such as fingerprints (chromatography peaks typical of a juice), and qualitative parameters such as sensory analysis. Tight correlations close to the known products of metabolism (eg in an apple) are being found and exploited; this permits the correct choice of parameters for inclusion in the database by eliminating the less discriminating ones. The second element relates to fingerprinting which is a characteristic signal obtained from high pressure liquid chromatography. The fingerprints are being modelled (ie the signal is represented by one convenient function); their reproducibility and repeatability are being tested, and their use in quality standards is being evaluated. The third element is quality assessment which is aimed at determining the minimum quantity of each individual component added illegally to a fruit juice which can be detected. Current project activities include application of the procedures developed, extension to olive oils and wines, and ring tests on seven fingerprinting methods. A key additional aim of the project is to eliminate 'wrong condemnations'.

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