Field-deployable Analytical Methods to Assess the Authenticity, Safety and Quality of Food

Closed for proposals

Project Type

Coordinated Research Project

Project Code




Approved Date

5 October 2016


3 - Active - Ongoing

Start Date

17 March 2017

Expected End Date

30 June 2022

Participating Countries

Russian Federation
Sri Lanka


The project will identify and select appropriate analytical techniques and develop protocols to assess the authenticity, safety and quality of food in a field-deployable context.  Milk powder and vegetable oils will be used as exemplar commodities to establish methods and guidance for ‘front-line’ food adulteration screening. Recurrent food authenticity and safety crises endanger public health and provoke loss of public confidence. These crises may also result in loss of substantial economic value by authentic product manufacturers and discredit entire economic sectors leading to barriers to international trade. Consequently, national gate-keepers, both food control regulators and customs authorities, find themselves under public pressure whilst not being adequately equipped with food adulteration screening technology to stand up to the challenge of uncovering food fraud.   The aim of this CRP is to close the gap between capabilities confined to sophisticated research labs, and technologies that can be utilised by various national gate-keepers in developing countries, namely national customs authorities & food regulators. The opportunity to accomplish this ambitious goal stems from a rapid and on-going reduction in the cost of analytical equipment and a rapid increase in its portability. Throughout the last decade the analytical instrument industry has delivered new families of handheld, portable and transportable tools. This project will consider applications based on hand-held and portable devices including (but not limited to) ion mobility spectrometry (IMS), near infra-red (NIR) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometers and some bench-top laboratory instruments that have become ‘field’ transportable including laser induced breakdown spectrometry (LIBS), laser ablation molecular isotopic spectrometry (LAMIS), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, mass spectrometry (MS) and multi-spectral imaging (MSI). This CRP is conducted jointly with the Nuclear Sciences Instrumentation Laboratory under CRP G42007.


In the context of food authenticity and adulteration the overall objective of the CRP is to implement low-cost field-deployable analytical techniques for developing countries to enable rapid testing of food products to tackle the increasing problems of economically motivated adulteration and associated potential unintended effects on food safety.  The main research objective is the development of accessible, rapid methods to screen milk powder and vegetable oils using field deployable technologies.  Technological advances have been made towards miniaturization of the standard powerful analytical equipment based on IMS, LIBS, infrared (IR) spectroscopy, NMR, MS and MSI. This novel analytical capacity will initially be used for analysis of milk powders and vegetable oils, as exemplar food commodities, with the aim of (see below):

Specific objectives

Develop accessible databases that will include optical atomic and molecular (vibrational/rotational) spectra, as well as nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectral data linked to identification/characterization of authentic milk powders and vegetable oils and adulterants in food products.

Develop analytical protocols for rapid identification of isotopic/ elemental/ molecular species that may be used to detect economically motivated adulteration and may pose a risk to human health.

Develop characterization strategies for mobile testing that provide guidelines for sampling, spectroscopic analysis and collation of results to maximize the robustness of the scientific output and minimize the costs of the analytical program.

Collect data from authentic reference samples, which is critical for reliable assessment of market-sample authenticity and safety. The mobile facility will also be used to gather authentic samples and conduct on-site testing.

Develop of analytical protocols for the detection and rapid identification of substances in food for identification of geographical origin or for specific modes of production.

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