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Adulteration of Superfoods

Analysis options at lifeprint GmbH – A Tentamus Company


Goji berries, chlorella, chokeberries, chia seeds, hemp flour, etc. – the list of the much advertised so-called “superfoods” is long.

The more exotic the food, the harder it is for the consumer to tell from its taste, consistency, smell and appearance whether he is looking at the right, unmixed product.

By buying “Superfoods”, the consumer primarily hopes to achieve a positive effect on health and psyche. It is therefore not unusual for “Superfoods” to be sold at comparatively high prices. Particularly in the case of products bought in extremely large quantities, the demand often cannot be met with the available capacities. This can lead to lower quality control (admixtures are not recognized or even tolerated) or even to a sharp increase in deliberate adulteration.

If the desired superfood is partially or completely replaced by other vegetable products that are more readily available and cheaper on the market, in the best case, the consumer will only miss out on the positive effect attributed to the superfood. However, undesirable side effects, such as allergic reactions, can also occur. In unfavorable cases, there may even be harmful effects on health if, for example, plants with corresponding ingredients are consumed in unusually high doses.


Superfood Fraud


At lifeprint GmbH, a company of the Tentamus Group, the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) method can provide manufacturers with information on such issues. The accredited method provides information about the total composition of plant species based on the DNA present in the sample.

Most methods for checking authenticity are based on the fact that the tester knows what he is looking for. With the help of NGS’ state-of-the-art test procedure, however, it is also possible to detect species that would not normally be searched for. It is also possible to identify more exotic species for which there are no common detection methods.

All materials can be used for analysis that contain sufficient intact DNA, including, for example, flours that cannot normally be examined by microscopic methods.


How does the NGS work exactly?


With this analysis, millions of sequences can be determined simultaneously from different samples. This involves the generation of huge amounts of sequence data for each sample, which are then evaluated using bioinformatics methods. Next generation sequencing is a very good way of detecting cases of adulteration for both plant and animal products. The method is primarily qualitative, but the number of different sequences obtained can be included for evaluation.

At lifeprint GmbH two different accredited NGS methods are available, one for the identification of land plants and another for vertebrates.

Through the Tentamus Center for Food Fraud (TCF²), lifeprint GmbH can also offer its customers access to a variety of other state-of-the-art analytical methods for the detection of food fraud.



Dr. Katrin Neumann
General Manager Lifeprint GmbH
+49 7303 95105 18

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