VIENNA, Austria, Wednesday May 22, 2019 –
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has launched a five-year research
project that will assist countries in combatting fraud in high-value food
products, such as premium honey, coffee and speciality rice varieties.
is the only Caribbean country included in project, carried out in cooperation
with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which
will refine methods to apply nuclear-derived techniques to test for accuracy in
food labels. The others are China, Costa Rica, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Italy,
Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand and
foods are sold at premium prices because of specific production methods, or
geographical origins,” said project coordinator and IAEA food safety specialist
Simon Kelly. “In order to protect consumers from fraud, and potential
unintended food safety issues, we need standardized methods to confirm that the
product has the characteristics that are claimed on the label.”
will help countries apply stable isotope techniques to protect and promote
foods with added-value, such as organic food or products with specific
geographical origins like Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The method works by
looking at the ratio of stable isotopes in elements – such as hydrogen, oxygen
and carbon – and the concentration of elements in a sample of the product.
These can provide a unique fingerprint that links a crop to the place where it
its aroma and low-acidity, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is among the world’s
most expensive, making it prone to counterfeiting.
“It is really
important for us to protect our coffee,” said Leslie Ann Hoo Fung, a researcher
at the International Centre for Environment and Nuclear Sciences in Kingston,
Jamaica. “We want to apply nuclear techniques to differentiate Blue Mountain
from High Mountain coffee, for example, as they command different price
wants to look at the applicability of the technique to other premium national
commodities, such as cocoa and rum.
The IAEA said
fraud is a growing problem in the food industry, affecting countries globally
and hurting exports. The research project will help developing countries
increase compliance with regulatory requirements, thus facilitating trade.
The research project started with a kick-off meeting last week and will run for five years.