Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tracking Down Organic Fraudsters

03.09.2014

Organic food is booming – but was the much more expensive tomato really grown organically? This can be found out by means of an analytic technique that scientists from the university of Würzburg are working on.

The demand for organic food is rising. It has almost tripled worldwide between 2002 and 2011, despite the fact that organic food is much more expensive than products grown the usual way. This has tempted some manufacturers and vendors to pass conventional goods off as organic – to the detriment of the consumer.


Organic tomatoes rooting in earth, here in a greenhouse of the Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture (LWG) in Veitshöchheim.

(Photo: LWG)


In conventional tomato cultivation, the plants are provided with water and fertiliser using hydroponics.

(Photo: LWG)

Current analytics is not good enough

Laboratory analyses are currently not completely capable of determining whether vegetables and fruit were really produced organically. The most reliable method at the moment is to examine the different forms (isotopes) of nitrogen in tomatoes, leek, or broccoli.

... more about:
»Food »Holzgrabe »LGL »Organic »Tracking »organic »tomato

“However, it is not always possible to achieve a clear result with this method,” says food chemist Monika Hohmann, doctoral student at the University of Würzburg and at the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority (LGL). One of the reasons is that certain fertilisation methods in organic farming prevent a clear distinction in the isotope analysis between the nitrogen composition resulting from organic and conventional fertilisers.

Magnetic resonance spectra as an alternative

This is why Hohmann developed a different method with promising first results: Using the so-called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), she created a kind of fingerprint of the contents of tomatoes, and the interpretation of the results showed significant differences between the organically and conventionally grown tomato varieties “Mecano” and “Tastery”. This is reported by Hohmann and her dissertation supervisors Norbert Christoph, Helmut Wachter, and Ulrike Holzgrabe in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry”.

The scientists are collaborating on this project with the Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture (LWG) in Veitshöchheim, where tomatoes in the greenhouse are grown organically and conventionally under strictly defined conditions. Samples are taken regularly, pureed, and centrifugalised. Finally, Hohmann measures a so-called 1H-NMR spectrum of them.

More tomato varieties to be included

“We are building up a data base from the spectra and this enabled us to detect the differences between the organically grown tomatoes and the conventional ones in the test setup,” Hohmann says. Up until now, only two tomato varieties were examined by the doctoral student. As a next step, she also wants to analyse other varieties, because it became obvious that differences between the varieties must be taken into account. Is this method also suitable for other fruit and vegetables? This is another question that will have to be clarified.

The scientists see their current results as a good starting point for developing a reliable method for a clear identification of organically produced tomatoes and other foods. Fraudsters passing off conventional fruit and vegetables as “organic” will not really like this.

Supervision and funding of the research

Monika Hohmann conducts her doctoral thesis at the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority (LGL) in Würzburg. Her supervisors are Norbert Christoph and Helmut Wachter. Her mentor at the University of Würzburg is Professor Ulrike Holzgrabe, who runs the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. One of Holzgrabe’s areas of expertise is the detection of counterfeit medications using NMR.

The project at the LGL is funded by the Bavarian Ministry for Environment and Consumer Protection.

1H NMR Profiling as an Approach To Differentiate Conventionally and Organically Grown Tomatoes, Monika Hohmann, Norbert Christoph, Helmut Wachter, and Ulrike Holzgrabe, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2014, 62 (33), pp 8530–8540, DOI: 10.1021/jf502113r

Contact

Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority (LGL), Department R 4.1, Luitpoldstraße 1, 97082 Würzburg, T +49 (0) 9131 6808-2424, pressestelle@lgl.bayern.de

Robert Emmerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

Further reports about: Food Holzgrabe LGL Organic Tracking organic tomato

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Pathogenic bacteria hitchhiking to North and Baltic Seas?
22.07.2016 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Unconventional quasiparticles predicted in conventional crystals
22.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Newly discovered material property may lead to high temp superconductivity

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered an unusual property of purple bronze that may point to new ways to achieve high temperature superconductivity.

While studying purple bronze, a molybdenum oxide, researchers discovered an unconventional charge density wave on its surface.

Im Focus: Mapping electromagnetic waveforms

Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.

Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...

Im Focus: Continental tug-of-war - until the rope snaps

Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases

Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...

Im Focus: A Peek into the “Birthing Room” of Ribosomes

Scaffolding and specialised workers help with the delivery – Heidelberg biochemists gain new insights into biogenesis

A type of scaffolding on which specialised workers ply their trade helps in the manufacturing process of the two subunits from which the ribosome – the protein...

Im Focus: New protocol enables analysis of metabolic products from fixed tissues

Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have developed a new mass spectrometry imaging method which, for the first time, makes it possible to analyze hundreds of metabolites in fixed tissue samples. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Protocols, explain the new access to metabolic information, which will offer previously unexploited potential for tissue-based research and molecular diagnostics.

In biomedical research, working with tissue samples is indispensable because it permits insights into the biological reality of patients, for example, in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

GROWING IN CITIES - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Gardening

15.07.2016 | Event News

SIGGRAPH2016 Computer Graphics Interactive Techniques, 24-28 July, Anaheim, California

15.07.2016 | Event News

Partner countries of FAIR accelerator meet in Darmstadt and approve developments

11.07.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

The Exception and its Rules

25.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Using Ultrashort Pulsed Laser Radiation to Process Fibre-Reinforced Components

25.07.2016 | Materials Sciences

Added bacterial film makes new mortar resistant to water uptake

25.07.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>