Fast-Field Cycling RNM, an innovative analysis to verify food authenticity

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Fast-Field Cycling NMR(Nuclear Magnetic Resonance), or field cycle NMR, is an innovative technique for analyzing the molecular dynamics of matrices, potentially useful in verifying the authenticity of various foods.

Fast-Field Cycling RNM, molecular dynamics analysis of arrays.

Fast-Field CyclingNuclear Magnetic Resonance (FFC NMR ), or field cycle NMR, is a novel technique for analyzing the molecular dynamics of arrays. Stelar S.r.l. – a company established in Mede (PV) in 1984 that provides innovative solutions for the study, characterization and authentication of materials and substances-has turned this theory into a technique and developed a commercial product to apply it.

The instrumentation developed by Stelar (SMARtracer™ and Spinmaster) allows the matrices to be characterized by processing their NMRD(nuclear magnetic resonance dispersion) profiles. The various studies conducted on various food matrices (see next paragraph) demonstrate the sensitivity of the profiles-and thus, their ability to detect various phenomena such as dehydration, oxidation, ripening, spoilage. As well as the addition of additives, adjuvants and other substances.

Matrices analyzed for food authenticity verification

Field cycle MRI was used to characterize and verify the authenticity of a series of arrays. The scientific bibliography has validated the effectiveness of the method on soils and terroirs, (1) but also on processed and unprocessed foods. Fruits, grains and cereal products (2,3), meats, (4) traditional balsamic vinegar (5) and wine. (6)

One promising area of investigation involves cheeses. Studies performed on Parmigiano Reggiano and Fiore Sardo PDO (7,8), among others, suggest the possibility of using this analytical technique to identify mozzarellas made with acidifying additives and/or curds, instead of milk and natural rennet according to tradition (9,10).

The FFC NMR method differs favorably from some traditional chemical analyses because of its noninvasive approach. Samples can then be analyzed quickly, after characterizing the original matrices, without the need for extractions and purifications that involve more time, cost and energy consumption.

Work in progress

Stelar-in collaboration with Porto Conte Ricerche S.r.l., a company that manages the Alghero (SS) site of the Science and Technology Park of Sardinia-is now working on the optimization and standardization of the Fast-Field Cycling NMR method. In collaboration with Professors Pellegrino Conte of the University of Palermo (Agriculture, Agricultural, Food and Forestry Sciences), Jose Pedro Sebastiao of the University of Lisbon (physics department) and Danuta Kruk of the University of Olzstyn.

The work in progress can also be accessed on the Pavia company’s YouTube channel, where webinars organized under the COST(European Cooperation in Science and Technology) program in Horizon 2020 can be found.

Official and third-party audits, blockchain

The prospect of applying this method, like the one developed by SSICA (Stazione Sperimentale per l’Industria delle Conserve Alimentari) to identify the origin of tomatoes in canned goods (11)-is twofold:

– To provide authorities with innovative and reliable tools for official controls on the food supply chain and fraud prevention,

embed analytics in the collateral offered by operators through public blockchain systems. (12)

The sampling of products taken from the market by third parties and the entry of analysis results into shared and incorruptible computer records (e.g., Wiise Chain) is indeed, in the writer’s opinion, the horizon of guarantees in the agrifood chain as in other sectors.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Pellegrino Conte, Paolo Lo Meo. (2020). Nuclear Magnetic Resonance with Fast Field-Cycling Setup: A Valid Tool for Soil Quality Investigation. Agronomy 2020, 10 (7) , 1040. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10071040

(2) Donatella Capitani, Anatoly P. Sobolev, Maurizio Delfini, Silvia Vista, Riccarda Antiochia, Noemi Proietti, Salvatore Bubici, Gianni Ferrante, Simone Carradori, Flavio Roberto De Salvador, Luisa Mannina. (2014). NMR methodologies in the analysis of blueberries. Electrophoresis 2014, 35 (11) , 1615-1626. https://doi.org/10.1002/elps.201300629

(3) Concha Collar. (2013). New Trends in Cereal-Based Products. https://doi.org/10.1201/b15246-14

(4) Sirvan Sultan Uguz, E. Burcin Ozvural, Maria Jardim Beira, Mecit Halil Oztop, Pedro José Sebastião. Use of NMR Relaxometry to identify frankfurters of different meat sources. Molecular Physics 2019, 117 (7-8) , 1015-1019. https://doi.org/10.1080/00268976.2018.1542162

(5) Simona Baroni, Roberto Consonni, Gianni Ferrante, Silvio Aime (2009). Relaxometric Studies for Food Characterization: The Case of Balsamic and Traditional Balsamic Vinegars. J. Agric. Food Chem., 57(8):3028-3032, https://doi.org/10.1021/jf803727d

(6) Philippe R. Bodart, Adam Rachocki, Jadwiga Tritt-Goc, Bernhard Michalke, Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Thomas Karbowiak, Regis D. Gougeon (2020). Quantification of manganous ions in wine by NMR relaxometry. Talanta, Volume 209, 120561, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.talanta.2019.120561

(7) Pellegrino Conte, Luciano Cinquanta, Paolo Lo Meo, Francesca Mazza, Anna Micalizzi, Onofrio Corona. (2021). Fast field cycling NMR relaxometry as a tool to monitor Parmigiano Reggiano cheese ripening. Food Research International, Volume 139:109845, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2020.109845

(8) R. Anedda, A. Pardu, J.-P. Korb, E. Curti. (2021). Effect of the manufacturing process on Fiore Sardo PDO cheese microstructure by multi-frequency NMR relaxometry. Food Research International, Volume 140:110079, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2020.110079

(9) Dario Dongo, Michele Polignieri. Mozzarella cheese, here’s why to be wary of citric acid. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 6.11.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/mozzarella-ecco-perché-diffidare-dell-acido-citrico

(10) Marta Strinati. Mozzarella unsuitable for vegetarians or as a hasty starter. 25 products compared to choose well. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 11/14/20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/mozzarelle-inadatte-ai-vegetariani-o-da-starter-sbrigativo-25-prodotti-a-confronto-per-scegliere-bene

(11) Dario Dongo. Preserves, an analysis is enough to reveal the origin of tomatoes. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 6/26/20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/innovazione/conserve-basta-un-analisi-a-rivelare-l-origine-del-pomodoro

(12) Dario Dongo and Melissa Bozzolini. Blockchain, true or false? Fraud in the corner. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 6/30/19, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/blockchain-vero-o-falso-la-frode-all-angolo

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.