12328446679?profile=RESIZE_400x“Organic” is a certification of a production system rather than a product.  The permitted inputs vary slightly between countries.  The EU organic production rules prohibit the use of GMOs, ionizing radiation, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides as well as the use of hormones and antibiotics. In the US a product can be labelled organic if it is certified to have been cultivated on soil that has not been treated with synthetic fertilizers or pesticides in the 3 years preceding harvest. Animals used for meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products must be fed 100 % organic feed and not be administered antibiotics or hormones.

The type of fertilizer or feed inputs can, in principle, be inferred from stable-isotope ratio analysis of the food product.  This literature review (open access) examines recent applications of stable isotope ratio analysis in this field. The authors describe different isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) techniques, including bulk IRMS analysis and the combination of IRMS with novel sample preparation and compound extraction techniques. They also cover compound-specific IRMS analysis comprising mainly hyphenated techniques, such as GC-IRMS.  They consider that this can overcome the limitations exhibited by bulk analysis. The review covers a wide range of food product categories, including cereals, vegetables, fruit, animal products, and seafood.  The authors discuss the importance of statistical analysis in determining which stable isotopic compositions (δ(15N), δ(34S), δ(18O), δ(13C), or δ(2H)) could be used as reliable organic authenticity markers.

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