Published: October 2, 2019

Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have developed a new approach that helps public agencies and commercial interests combat fraudulently-labeled organic foods. By looking at how organic plants are fertilized, the method provides a deeper, more accurate portrayal of whether organic labeled produce is indeed organic. According to experts, imported organic fruits and vegetables are susceptible to food fraud.

Kristian Holst Laursen, an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, has been developing food fraud detection methods for the past decade. Laursen heads a research group in the field of plant nutrients and food quality at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. The group has developed an analytical method that can inform public agencies and importers whether organic labeled fruits and vegetables are indeed organic.

“Our method can be used to distinguish organic vegetables from conventionally farmed produce by looking at how plants have been fertilized,” says Laursen. He adds that the scope of tomatoes, potatoes and apples and other produce that fraudulently receive eco-labels is unknown as there has never been an examination of the fertilizers used.

The current means of finding out whether an item is organic or not focuses on identifying pesticide residue. According to Laursen, this method is far from secure. For example, the use of pesticides on a neighboring field or traces from former conventional production on a now organic field can taint crops.

“Our method does not reveal whether pesticides have been used, but whether organic plants have been fertilized correctly. As such, the method complements existing analytical controls and, overall, provides a much more detailed picture of the growing history,” explains Laursen.

The scientific article was recently published in Food Chemistry

Source: University of Copenhagen

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