Isotopic Signatures of Foods and Other Natural Products

Today's natural products are sourced, shipped and used all over the world. Suppliers and retailers face increasing customer and government pressure to be fully transparent in the true provenance and history of all the content within such products. An example of this is the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program introduced by the USDA in 2009. This creates a need for improved analytical tools that can track natural products. In addition, higher value natural products, such as maple syrup and particularly wines, are sometimes surreptitiously diluted, mixed or just outright counterfeited. These actions can be hard to identify by downstream vendors and customers or by government regulators.

Fortunately, every component used in natural products (e.g. foods, wine, vegetable oils, moisturizers) has a unique signature of stable isotope ratios for the three "life elements," carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, as well as for nitrogen. Chemists have long known that these ratios are permanent markers that can be used to spot dilution, mixing and other product adulteration. But for years, practical and cost limitations of measuring these ratios limited their use in these applications to a few high profile cases. Based on our unique and patented OA-ICOS technology, LGR stable isotope analyzers make these measurements a routine, turnkey test, and our isotope analyzers are now widely employed to measure these signatures. They can confirm, in just minutes, whether a sample of orange juice is from Florida or Brazil, or whether it was diluted in Texas; they can determine whether or not maple syrup is diluted with corn syrup.