Food safety programme tackling food fraud
Manuka honey from New Zealand seems to be marketed six times as much as it is really produced. The IAEA test can identify the honey’s place of origin.
Photo: Shutterstock


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To safeguard the quality and geographic denomination of high-value foods, the IAEA and the FAO have developed the so-called stable isotope analysis to test for authenticity of high-quality food products.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has launched a five-year research project with experts from 16 countries to refine methods to apply nuclear-derived techniques to test for accuracy in food labels. The outcome of the project, carried out in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will assist countries in combating fraud in high-value food products, such as premium honey, coffee and speciality rice varieties.

“Numerous foods are sold at premium prices because of specific production methods, or geographical origins,” explains project coordinator and IAEA food safety specialist Simon Kelly. “In order to protect consumers from fraud and potential unintended food safety issues, we need standardised methods to confirm that the product has the characteristics that are claimed on the label.”

The project will help countries apply stable isotope techniques to protect and promote foods with added value, such as organic food or products with specific geographical origins like Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

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