The project tested two research approaches. Rice samples will be analysed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS) and by stable isotope ratio mass spectroscopy (SIRMS) to give quantitative data for a range of trace elements and isotopic ratios respectively. The combined isotopic and elemental data of authentic Basmati, European and USA rice varieties will be subjected to a specific type of statistical analysis known as canonical discriminant analysis (CDA), to identify which of the measured variables could be used as a means of classifying rice samples by geographical origin. The results of this analysis will then used to classify 43 'test' rice samples, on the basis of their trace element and isotopic ratio profiles.
Basmati rice, grown only in India and Pakistan, is sold in UK supermarkets at premium prices due to its superior quality. The price for these premium varieties may be 2-3 times that of non-Basmati rice. Adulteration of Basmati rice with less expensive non-Basmati rice would result in the consumer being sold a lower quality product in the guise of a superior one, however robust methods for the detection of non-Basmati rice in Basmati rice are currently lacking.
The Agency has funded work to produce methodology that can identify rice cultivars, and this project forms part of this work. The objective of the project are to test the ability of a multi-element analysis of rice trace elements, combined with stable isotope analysis, to distinguish between Basmati and non-Basmati rice on the basis of cultivar and geographic region.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.