4 Quality Assurance
Using small molecules
to detect honey adulteration
A laboratory comparison
Authors: Arne Dübecke1,2 & Bernd Kämpf3,
1Tentamus Center for Food Fraud (TCF²), 2Quality Services International GmbH, Bremen, Germany,
3FoodQS GmbH, Langenzenn, Germany
Honey authenticity has been a hot topic for honey industry for
decades. It was and still is a competition between those who
adulterate honey and the honey laboratories, which persistently
work on finding new ways to prove authenticity of honey.
In the past, laboratories usually used a so-called targeted approach, i.e.
they focused on a single or few parameters. An example would be the classical
isotopic analysis of 13C/12C ratio in honey.
The downside of such approach is the fact, that once it is known, which
parameter is analyzed, fraudsters develop new ways of adulteration to circumvent
the existing methods.
One example is the official AOAC method AOAC 998.12, which uses the
before mentioned ratio of 13C and 12C in honey. This method works very well
for the detection of syrup from C4-plants like cane sugar or corn sugar for
which it was developed. However, it is not able to detect additions of syrup
from C3-plants like rice or wheat. Thus, to cover also C3-plant derived syrup,
development of new methods was necessary.
Nowadays there is a range of methods available, some are targeting
single markers, e.g. for the addition of rice syrup or beet syrup. Others look
at patterns of oligosaccharides that develop during syrup production by
hydrolysis of starch. Such patterns do not occur in authentic honey, so in
Figure 1: Sciex X500R QToF high resolution mass spectrometry system.