Many analytical approaches use markers as indicators of food authenticity.  These markers can stem from various systems biology approaches, including elements, metabolites, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.

This article (purchase required), written by some of the global thought-leaders in authenticity analysis, starts with the premise that there is a pressing need to adopt a harmonized approach for validating these markers.  The authors make recommendations for harmonized terminologies and general definitions related to food authenticity markers. They propose the terms “primary” and “secondary” markers to distinguish between direct and indirect authentication. The terms “single” and “dual” authenticity markers, and authentic “profiles” and “fingerprints” are suggested to distinguish between the number of analytical targets used. They also recommend that the terms: “threshold”, “binary”, and “interval” markers are applied depending on how they discriminate authentic from non-authentic samples.

Secondly, they advocate for harmonization in marker discovery approaches. They provide a summary of the main analytical techniques, published guidelines, data repositories, and data analysis approaches for various marker classes while also stating their applicability and limitations.

Finally, they propose guidelines concerning marker validation. They recommend that the validation of the authentication method should include the following steps: 1) applicability statement; 2) experimental design; 3) marker selection and analysis; 4) analytical method validation; 5) method release; 6) method monitoring. They conclude that implementing these approaches will represent a significant step towards establishing a wide range of fully validated and accredited methodologies that can be applied effectively in food authenticity monitoring and control programs..

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