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New CRP: Implementation of Nuclear Techniques for Authentication of Foods with High-Value Labelling Claims (D52042)

New Coordinated Research Project

In 2019, the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture will launch a new five-year Coordinated Research Project (CRP) ‘Implementation of Nuclear Techniques for Authentication of Foods with High-Value Labelling Claims’ (D52042). The project aims to safeguard consumers and reputable producers; to ensure regulatory and ethical compliance; to stimulate domestic markets; and to reduce barriers to international trade.

Numerous foods are sold at premium prices because of high-value labelling claims related to specific production methods, unique characteristics and origins. These claims include agricultural, geographic, ethical and nutraceutical labelling specifications that add value to the products. Premium foods with added value chains can offer developing countries export advantages in global markets. Origin-linked products can be part of a virtuous circle of sustainable quality - based on the preservation of local resources and other factors as described in the FAO-SINERGI guide “Linking people, places and products”.  However, they are also the most susceptible to economically motivated adulteration and fraud. Some examples include vanilla from Madagascar, coffee from Colombia, Taliouine saffron from Morocco and Darjeeling tea from India. Experience has demonstrated that when food fraud occurs there is an implicit – and usually unintended – food safety risk associated with product tampering often in unlicensed premises. In order to protect consumers, standardised analytical methods are required to confirm such claims.

Several nuclear, isotopic and related techniques have proven suitable for confirming a wide range of high-value labelling claims such as free-range, organic, wild versus farmed and natural versus synthetic. The planned methods and instrumentation will cover a range of destructive and non-destructive nuclear and related techniques with proven track records for the determination of food adulteration and origin.

The new CRP is related to the ongoing IAEA CRPs, ‘Enhancing Nuclear Analytical Techniques to Meet the Needs of Forensic Science’ (F11021) and ‘Field Deployable Analytical Methods to Assess the Authenticity, Safety and Quality of Food (D52040/G42007). It also builds upon a series of Technical Cooperation and Regional projects (RAS5081). Furthermore, the CRP will directly link to two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG number two – end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote a sustainable future, and SDG number 3 – ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. 

CRP objectives:

The overarching objective of the CRP is to enable developing countries to protect and promote food products with high-value labelling claims by development and application of nuclear and related techniques. Specific research objectives include:

  • Application of existing nuclear and complementary analytical techniques and development of methods for verifying high-value labelling claims;
  • Harmonization of analytical methods across Member States through development and production of standard operating procedures for nuclear and related analytical techniques applied to food matrices;
  • Characterisation of authentic reference samples to verify labelling claims of potentially adulterated samples; and
  • Development of guidelines for database establishment. Maintenance, statistical evaluation, interpretation and reporting.

CRP expected outcome and results:

The expected outcome of the CRP will be increased capacity in the implementation and operational use of nuclear and related techniques to authenticate foodstuffs with high-value labelling claims. Anticipated results include:

  • Increased analytical capacity of Member States, using consensus-based harmonized analytical methodologies;
  • Improved capability of participating Member States to ensure product authenticity and identify fraudulent practices;
  • Improved information exchange and cooperation among Member States and sharing of intelligence on food fraud trends globally;
  • Increased consumer and reputable producer confidence;
  • Increased regulatory and ethical compliance;
  • Increased reputation of domestic markets and reduced technical and equivalency barriers to international trade.

How to join the CRP:

Please submit your Proposal for a Research Contract or Agreement by email to the IAEA's Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA website.

For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should write to the Research Contracts Administration Contact Point

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