This project will address whether the reported differences between the stable nitrogen isotope ratios (N15/N14) of artificial and organic nitrogenous fertilisers are retained by plants and can be exploited to detect this type of fraud.
The production of organic vegetables within the EU is controlled by the implementation of EC regulation (EEC No 2092/91) by the member states. The United Kingdom Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS) sets a minimum standard for organic production, which has to be met for food to be described as 'organic'. It also sets out procedures for a producer to obtain 'organic certificationÃ'. Although certification should guarantee adherence to the UKROFS, the system relies on detailed record keeping by the producer. The premium price of retail organic food, and more demanding agricultural practices used in production, may therefore result in 'conventional'producers (or their wholesalers) mislabelling their crops in order to command the significantly higher market prices associated with organic products.
The main objective of this proposal is to develop a method that can verify whether artificial nitrogenous fertilizers (i.e. produced by chemical synthesis) have been used during the production of 'organic' vegetables.
<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>.