Analytical tools for the monitoring of food fraud
The goal of the European FOODINTEGRITY project is to provide Europe with an inventory of tools and resources to detect fraud and guarantee the integrity of the food chain.
As part of a 5-year project (2014-2018), the partners have worked together to develop tools that can be integrated into industrial production and supply chains to ensure the integrity of food products. The CRA-W has made a significant contribution to this by exploring the role of near-infrared spectroscopy, particularly near-infrared hyperspectral imaging, in the detection of soft wheat grains in durum wheat. The aim is to enable companies to detect a mixture of soft wheat and durum wheat on reception of the cereals. This is of interest because the legislation in some southern European countries requires the use of durum wheat for the manufacture of pasta, with a maximum tolerance of 3% soft wheat. For this study, 77 samples of durum wheat and 180 samples of soft wheat, collected in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in Italy and Belgium respectively, were analysed using near-infrared hyperspectral imaging, seed by seed (see illustration). Four approaches were investigated to distinguish soft wheat from durum wheat. These were based on morphological criteria, near-infrared spectral profile, protein content (<12> 12%), and the vitreous/non-vitreous grain ratio. The results show that the method based on a combination of morphological criteria and spectral profiles can easily detect fraud or adulteration at the required threshold. Moreover, models based on protein content and vitreousness can be used to reject batches that do not meet the minimum thresholds.
The tools developed within the framework of this project should help to bring the worlds of research and industry closer together. On another note, the research provides the agri-food sector with analytical methods useful in the authentication of products. CRA-W’s expertise in database management and data fusion, combined with its knowledge of agricultural product authentication, makes CRA-W a preferred partner in the development of on-site analytical solutions for product control.
Further information can be found on https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/foodintegrity/index.cfm