Authenticity testing aims to ensure that food is in its original state. “Product authenticity is the process of irrefutably showing that a food or food ingredient is in its original, genuine, verifiable, and intended form as declared and represented,” according to the International Food Authenticity Assurance Organisation (FAAO). Authenticity testing is used to ensure that food products include authentic ingredients and are presented correctly and accurately.
Authenticating your food products is not a new concept, but it has gotten a lot of attention in recent years due to the number of food fraud occurrences recorded throughout the world.
Authenticity testing is not a new concept, but it has gotten a lot of attention in recent years due to the number of food fraud occurrences recorded throughout the world.
Food fraud, also known as Economically Motivated Adulteration, is the purposeful altering of the content of food products for financial advantage (EMA). EMA not only jeopardises food safety, but the presence of harmful or unreported adulterants (substances) may endanger consumers’ health.
Standardisation of techniques
Several global food fraud projects and programmes have been financed to define quality principles, develop analytical methodologies, and establish standards for food authenticity testing.
Approaches to Food Authenticity Testing
Depending on the type of fraud and level of risk, there are two techniques for food authenticity testing: targeted and non-targeted analysis. When the contaminants are known, or the food in issue has naturally built-in identifiers, such as physical, biological, or chemical markers, that can expose its identity or purity; targeted analysis is used. Suppose the adulterating components are novel or have never been detected. In that case, a focused method will be unable to trace them using standard analytical testing, and a non-targeted strategy will be considered.
Different types of food fraud
- Substitution is partially or entirely replacing a product with a less expensive component, for example, blending extra virgin olive oil with poor grade oil.
- Adding undeclared or unknown ingredients to improve quality attributes and avoid analytical tests is an unapproved enhancement. For example, adding colour or flavouring dyes to spices or adding melamine to increase protein content in milk are examples of unapproved enhancement.
- Concealment is the technique of adding components to food to disguise faults or deterioration, such as hormone injections to mask poultry sickness.
- Dilution refers to adding less expensive components to more costly or premium foods and diluting liquids with water or diluting honey with sugar syrup.
- Mislabelling occurs when the features of a food product do not match the label; for example, labelling non-organic food as organic.
- Counterfeiting refers to replacing food or food ingredients with a similar-looking product, such as selling an utterly made-up formulation as pure juice.
- The production or sale of food goods through unregulated channels, such as the sale of excess or unreported food products, is referred to as grey market production/theft/diversion.
- Counterfeiting and grey market production/theft/diversion, for example, are not subject to regulatory compliance control and are related to intellectual property rights violations. Still, EMAs are non-compliance with food regulations and are subject to safety evaluation and official authorities.
Future of Food Authentication
Using authenticity testing to identify EMAs shifts the fight against food fraud from reaction to early detection and prevention, allowing the food sector to take control of the food safety issue. Food authenticity testing is being revolutionised by research and technical breakthroughs, albeit they cannot be utilised to detect all types of food fraud. Food fraud safety issues are projected to rise as the global market becomes more sophisticated and e-commerce becomes more prevalent. As a result, there is always a need for sensitive and accurate authenticity measures to avoid food fraud and to assist the business in keeping up with new fraud techniques that may threaten the food supply chain’s safety.