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Differentiation of organically and conventionally produced milk by stable isotope and fatty acid analysis

Molkentin, Joachim and Giesemann, Anette (2007) Differentiation of organically and conventionally produced milk by stable isotope and fatty acid analysis. Anal Bioanal Chem, 388, pp. 297-305.

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Increasing sales of organic milk mean intensified tests for authenticity are required. In addition to comprehensive documentation, analytical methods to identify organic milk, and thus to differentiate it from conventional milk, are needed for consumer protection. Because the composition of milk is fundamentally dependent on the feeding of the cows, thirty-five samples from both production systems in Germany, including farm and retail milk, were collected within 12 months, to reflect seasonal variation, and appropriate properties were analysed. Fatty acid analysis enabled organic and conventional milk to be completely distinguished, because of the higher α-linolenic acid (C18:3ω3) and eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5ω3) content of the former. Organic milk fat contained at least 0.56% C18:3ω3 whereas the maximum in conventional milk was 0.53%. Because of the parallel seasonal course of the C18:3ω3 content of organic and conventional retail samples, however, time-resolved comparison at the five sampling dates resulted in a clearer difference of 0.34± 0.06% on average. Analysis of stable carbon isotopes (δ13C) also enabled complete distinction of both types of milk; this can be explained by the different amounts of maize in the feed. For conventional milk fat δ13C values were −26.6‰ or higher whereas for organic milk fat values were always lower, with a maximum of −28.0‰. The time-resolved average difference was 4.5±1.0‰. A strong negative correlation (r=−0.92) was found between C18:3ω3 and δ13C. Analysis of a larger number of samples is required to check the preliminary variation ranges obtained in this pilot study and, probably, to adjust the limits. Stable isotopes of nitrogen (δ15N) or sulfur (δ34S) did not enable assignment of the origin of the milk; in cases of ambiguity, however, some trends observed might be useful in combination with other properties.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Stable isotopes; Fatty acids; Differentiation; Identification; Organic milk production; Conventional milk production
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Research affiliation: Germany > Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food - MRI > Department of Safety and Quality of Milk and Fish Products
Deposited By: Molkentin, Dr. Joachim
ID Code:17235
Deposited On:05 Jul 2010 09:06
Last Modified:05 Jul 2010 09:06
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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