Food authenticity cannot usually be determined beyond doubt without the help of time-consuming, sophisticated lab experiments. Consumers have to trust the retailer’s word or the food packaging about what they are buying. However, the origin of a product, the cultivation methods or type play an increasingly important role in purchase decisions; consumers are often prepared to pay a higher price for special products like organic foods. One of the consequences of this is that falsification repeatedly occurs in these areas.
The Max Rubner-Institut has been researching into food authenticity for many years and has developed and continues to develop analytical procedures and state-or-the-art methods for verifying the authenticity of foodstuffs. These methods are passed on to the monitoring authorities and local diagnostic labs to be used for routine controls. DNA-analyses, for example, can identify the species of fish or poultry products. Organically produced milk and fish products can be differentiated from conventional production by combining different methods such as determining the proportion of stable isotopes or the pattern of fatty acids. Other methods have also been developed to identify the presence of foreign proteins, like soy, in meat products. Metabolomic methods, which are based on the fact that each food has a characteristic ingredient footprint, are gaining importance as well.