Products tested

Nuts and dried fruits

Nuts and dried fruits Nuts and dried fruits Nuts and dried fruits

Why test it?

Nuts and dried fruits are popular snacks because they are healthy and high in energy. They are offered pure or in mixtures and are also an ingredient in many other products such as mueslis and sweets. The consumption trend is increasing in middle- and high-income countries.

Almonds and walnuts were the most consumed tree nuts worldwide in 2020 (32% and 19%, of the world share) followed by pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts. Dried grapes (raisins, sultanas, and currants) accounted for 44% of the total died fruits production in 2020 and table dates 31%*.

Huge amounts of nuts and dried fruits are produced every year and not only are they coming from all over the world, also they are exported globally following complicated supply chain routes. The end consumers are often aware of the positive health effects of these products and also care for sustainability and fair working conditions. This makes some origins less attractive than others.

Producers of end products such as fair cereals or organic muesli bars should be able to assure such claims. Also adulteration can also be connected to serious health hazards. Substituting nuts in powders or other products might incur allergies. Using untraceable nuts and dried fruits from unwanted origins might bring hazardous chemicals and pesticides into the final product.

* Nuts & dried fruits statistical yearbook 2021/2022 by INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council

The origin of nuts and dried foods can become of high importance when there are some regions in the world connected with negative associations such as poor labor conditions or mix-up allegations. But how can someone be sure to really get what is intended to buy? How is it possible to establish and maintain customer trust when manipulation can be very diverse and goes beyond false information about the origin of a product? Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) can help answer questions about the geographic origin and authenticity of your fruits and vegetables at all points of the supply chain.

By determining and interpreting the stable isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, hydrogen and oxygen of any fruit or vegetable, the so-called isotope fingerprint (consisting of all five ratios) is established which is characteristic for the sample and can be compared to reference data from reference samples from different regions or to a data base. To achieve high geographical resolution and credible results, we use our global database, as well as our expertise and know-how to provide advanced customized origin testing by including more parameters. Any information on the samples such as suspected (not declared) origin, farming style, etc. is helpful.

In some cases it can be of interest if a sample comes from a certain batch. Unknown factors of differentiation, for example different qualities of lots and sublots can be addressed by untargeted fingerprinting of the products with one or more analytical methods of our portfolio, in order to identify differences and provide useful information for further investigation of such inconsistencies.

Isotope analysis plays a decisive role when it comes to traceability of batches in the areas of production, import and export. With retained samples, the identity of products can be verified independently of documents – a control sample is directly compared with an original reference sample, providing strong evidence of authenticity.

Another known problem can also be addressed with the batch comparison: Residues of ethylene oxide, which is used for fumigation to kill germs. The carcinogenic gas is banned in the EU, but is still used in other countries on foods such as sesame.

With isotope analysis, added C4 sugar in dried fruits coming from another source than the fruits themselves can be detected by LC/EA-IRMS (δ13C).

If the focus is on the detection of a (partial) substitution of the listed ingredients by another botanical material, identification of these species can be a supporting analytical method of choice.

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