Methods developed for analyzing whether something is real or synthetic vanilla has existed
Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark, DTU, have recently developed methods that can detect when foods are not what they promise. In a PhD project at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Amelie Sina Wilde has developed a method to prove the authenticity of black pepper and to detect fraud. She initially used so-called spectrometry to take ‘fingerprints’ of samples of both pure pepper and of fraudulent goods before feeding these ‘fingerprint’ data into a model that uses the dataset to distinguish between genuine pepper and diluted products.
Black pepper is the most widely used spice in the world. Even though pepper fetches a low price per kilo, due to the huge quantities that are traded globally there is lots of money to be made from ‘diluting’ ground pepper e.g. by mixing it with crushed pepper husks, papaya seeds or chili. Tests have shown the method to be sensitive enough to be able to distinguish between the peppercorn itself and other parts of the plant.
Amelie Sina Wilde has also developed methods for analyzing whether something is real or synthetic vanilla has existed. In her studies, Amelie Sina Wilde found that a recently developed vanilla flavor production method can potentially be used to imitate the marker typical for real vanilla flavor. This new production method is more environmentally friendly than previous methods and was clearly not invented to support fraudulent activities. However, it offers an opportunity for sophisticated criminals to perpetrate food fraud.