Curtailing deception of origin

12.6.2017 11:03

Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) will start extensive sampling of strawberries in the summer of 2017. The campaign is related to the joint research project of Evira and Luke which aims at developing a method for the verification of the origin of Finnish strawberries.

"The study to be started is based on the different forms of isotopes of the elements. Part of the isotopes are found in different concentrations in different geographical regions, and they are absorbed into plants in ratios determined by their environment. Thus it is possible to identify the origin of plant products on the basis of their isotope ratios. The data are supplemented by determining the minerals contained in the plants", explains Professor Janne Nieminen from Evira.

Geographical origin of strawberries is always identifiable

The geographical origin of strawberries can be identified by a Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis (SIRA) of the samples, regardless of the variety or the time of the crop season.

"The isotope ratios and mineral concentrations determined for the analysed samples are compiled into a database which can later be used to detect and prove falsification of the origin of strawberries. The method is already in use in Sweden, for example, for the identification of the origin of batches of strawberries offered for sale. It has been utilised within EU in legal proceedings of suspected cases of falsification of origin", says Research Professor Saila Karhu from Luke.

Sampling will start immediately and proceed based on the ripening of strawberries. The sampling locations will be selected evenly across each strawberry production area. In the summer of 2017, the objective is to collect samples from 50 strawberry production areas. Ripe strawberries are selected as samples, and they are collected by representatives of Luke or Evira. Samples are also acquired from market stalls for comparison purposes.

In addition to Luke and Evira, also the union representing berry farmers (Hedelmän ja Marjanviljelijäin liitto ry) and a regional association of berry farmers (Suonenjoen seudun marjanviljelijäin yhdistys) as well as the Berry Know-how Centre of Development Company SavoGrow participate in the development project.

The project is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Maiju and Yrjö Rikala Garden Foundation, as well as associations and representatives of berry farmers and berry industry.

For more information, please contact:
Janne Nieminen, Head of Research Unit, tel. +358 50 463 9586,
Natural Resources Institute Finland, vegetable and berry production:
Saila Karhu, Research Professor, tel. +358 050 4082068,
Hedelmän ja Marjanviljelijäin liitto ry (Union of fruit and berry farmers in Finland):
Hannu Salo, Executive Manager, tel. +358 9 5841 6534,


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