Know where your food really comes from? Counterfeit-proof food profiles could be the future

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In Germany, University of Hohenheim is working on new methods to determine the origin of plant foods so what a food producer says about whether that tomato is actually outdoor grown or greenhouse grown or that truffle is really from China or from France, will be accurate and reliable. The team used truffles and walnuts from different countries for their first trial.

Their new analysis methods should provide accurate information about the geographical origin, the growing conditions and the food variety. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is funding the project of the University of Hohenheim with a total of 275,000 euros.

According to the University’s press release, the so-called isotope analysis, one of the three methods used, provides accurate information on the origin of a plant based on the determination of the composition of the carbon and nitrogen and hydrogen isotopes in the plants. In tests, they were able to, for example, the difference from a free-range and recognize a greenhouse paprika.