Tracing food adulteration and supporting crop production with the power of stable isotope analysis using Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy

Rob Peters, Picarro, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands (
Erik Heeren, Picarro, �s-hertogenbosch, Netherlands
Magdalena Hofmann, Picarro, �s-hertogenbosch, Netherlands

Organic food, beverages and renewable products are part of a multibillion-dollar global industry where economic value is based on purity and sustainability. The stable isotope composition of food and other goods can act as a fingerprint of the origin, authenticity and the production process, and therefore, it allows you to detect and prevent fraud.  

Here we present the use of our Cavity Ring-Down Spectrometers as an easy and cost-effective method to determine the stable isotope composition of organic goods and crops to trace food adulteration and to support food production.

The Picarro Combustion Module Cavity Ring-Down Spectrometer (CM-CRDS) allows you to analyze the stable carbon isotope composition (δ13C) of organic products. The measurement accuracy and precision of CM-CRDS is comparable to elemental analyzer isotope ratio mass spectroscopy (EA-IRMS) but at the same time it offers a higher ease of use at lower investment and running costs. As such, CM-CRDS is an excellent tool to e.g. trace the addition of sugars to honey or coconut water or to distinguish between renewable and common fossil fuel plastic.  

The Picarro liquid water analyzer, L2130-i, allows you to measure simultaneously the stable hydrogen (δD) and oxygen isotope (δ18O) composition of beverages and food waters. This isotope signature contains valuable information on the geographical origin of a food product. In addition, the power of stable isotope analysis also enables you to determine the water use efficiency of crops which can help to improve agricultural productivity especially in arid regions.


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