Researchers at the University of Copenhagen say they have developed a new organic food verification test.
Rather than focusing on the presence of pesticide residues, the new test looks at how organic crops are fertilised, which the Danish researchers say offers a “deeper, more accurate” analysis of whether an organic food label is accurate.
Having an alternative, or complementary, verification test will help maintain confidence in organic at a time when organic fraud has become a significant problem in some parts of the world.
“Nobody really knows the extent of this type of fraud, but we have seen bad examples from abroad that extend well beyond organic products. Rice made of plastic, wine with toxins, artificial honey, etc. There is not always a health risk associated with food fraud, but it is clear that when you pay a higher price, you expect the product that you are paying for. And, of course, honest producers must be protected,” says assistant professor Kristian Holst Laursen.
“While a major eco-labelling scandal has yet to occur in Denmark, we often forget that our diet is sourced globally, and that our foods are often imported from countries where problems have been documented. For example, in southern Europe, where a large quantity of organic fruits and vegetables are sourced,”
Kristian Holst Laursen’s research group is currently working with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the method is said to be ready for further testing, approval and use by public agencies and commercial interests.