During late April/early May each year, strawberry season begins. This marks the time that strawberries return to the market to be enjoyed by all once again.
With The Netherlands, Spain, and Egypt being the world’s prime strawberry manufacturers, exports peak at this time of year, with Germany being a keen customer of these county’s strawberries.
Although strawberry season is loved by many, there are many cases of food fraud in the strawberry industry. Even though strawberries must be sold with labelling claims stating the country of origin, these claims need to be verified for accuracy. Strawberries claimed to be manufactured in The Netherlands or Spain may actually come from other countries with cheaper labour prices.
In order to verify a product’s country of origin, isotope analyses are performed.
Virtually every element has an isotope. Since isotope deviations occur based on product origin, each country has a unique “isotopic fingerprint”. Patterns of product origin can be identified using isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IR-MS).
Isotopes occur naturally but not everywhere in the same amounts. By growing in soil, plants incorporate isotopes in their tissue. Thus, geographical differences in soil isotope signatures are reflected in the plant’s isotope signature. This makes it possible to ensure that the isotopes in the tested sample match the isotopes in the soil, water etc. of the relevant region.
Although the quality of foreign strawberries is still high, many German consumers place high value on the local production of their goods. This is partially because consumers are concerned about the long distance the strawberries must travel to reach Germany, which may impact the product quality.
At the Tentamus Group, we take food fraud very seriously.
For this reason, the Tentamus Center for Food Fraud (TCF²) tests foods for adulteration. In this department, we are able to test foods for their isotopic fingerprint, which allows us to uncover their country of origin. The make-up of a food is also deconstructed using our high-tech equipment, in order to ensure that no foreign substances have been used to adulterate the product.
Our goal is to make sure that product recalls are avoided to protect our client’s reputation. We can help you with this by ensuring that the products brought to the market are indeed from the mentioned origin, and have not been adulterated in any way.
This way we hope to contribute to an enjoyable strawberry season for all.
Learn more about our services by getting in touch with our expert:
T +49 421 59660737