What has been emerging as a trend in the last years has now got some routine and is straight on the way to become a matter of fact: The full transparency regarding the origin of products.
Several scandals were necessary to raise the sensitivity of the consumers and then also of the producers and retailers concerning this topic.
In former times the Country of Origin –Labelling (COOL) for every lot of every food product had almost been something like a “nice-to-have”, viewed skeptically by many producers due to the argument of higher costs. Now it appears that the general attitude towards this issue has significantly changed in favor of product safety and transparency.
This is reflected on one hand by the relevant EU-legislation and the often even stricter Member States’ legislation and the establishment of specific research centers dedicated to this topic. Also national and international executive targeted campaigns fighting food fraud draw attention in the media more often.
It is not meaningless indeed where a product comes from. Whether the labelling on the product package really does keep its promise is another question competent consumers are asking today. Undoubtedly, the declared origin of a product can add to its value significantly, a fact that augments the risk of falsification.
The misdeclaration of strawberry origin is a hot topic in 2017. Every strawberry-producing country has to cope with the fact that there are attempts to sell to consumers cheaper and possibly lower quality strawberries from non declared region or from other countries.
Analytical origin testing by isotope analysis is provided as the method of choice to get document-independent and reliable assurance regarding the cultivation area or the producing region of the food product.
As reported here, this year the state of Burgenland in Austria cooperated with Imprint Analytics to carry out strict controls in order to stop misdeclarations and price fraud.
A Finnish research project is now following the same line. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) have started together with farmers of Finland an extensive campaign in order to develop a method for the verification of the origin of Finnish strawberries.
Luke opts for the analysis of stable isotopes as the method of choice and refers to the fact that the method had also been used in Sweden for similar purposes before.
Imprint Analytics offers to every producer, wholesaler, retailer and other interested party the service of origin testing by isotope analysis as an accredited testing laboratory.
By means of the Reference Sample System (RSS) for which the unique isotope-fingerprint of the control sample (e.g. strawberry in question) is compared to the reference sample (e.g. strawberry of known origin), fast and explicit clarity about the origin can be obtained and the threat of fraudulent labelling can be professionally confronted.
Source: “Curtailing deception of origin”, Finish Food Safety Authority, 12.06.2017