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Coffee in the focus of OPSON VIII

In the 8th edition of Operation OPSON, Europol and Interpol have once again successfully detected food counterfeiting at international level.

The Robusta coffee plant is much easier to cultivate than Arabica coffee, which is why it is offered at a lower price. Robusta is therefore not bad, but due to its strong taste and significantly higher caffeine content, it is primarily used in espresso blends.

A special campaign was aimed at adulterating expensive Arabica coffee with cheaper Robusta beans. Since “100% Arabica” is frequently advertised for coffee, no Robusta content may be found in coffees labelled in this way. Nevertheless, cheaper Robusta beans are occasionally mixed in to increase profit. The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) in Berlin was in charge of this campaign. The BVL also received support from Customs, which provided import data on coffee. A total of nine Arabica coffee samples were found in Germany, Portugal and Switzerland. In Germany alone a total of 134 samples were analysed from January to mid-February, of which 3 (approx. 2%) contained Robusta coffee, although it was not labelled.

It is possible to detect Robusta coffee using the substance 16-O-methylcafestol. This substance is contained in Robusta beans, but not in Arabica beans. The Tentamus Center for Food Fraud (TCF²) also deals with this topic and also offers the possibility to analyze 16-O-methylcafestol. The analysis is carried out using NMR technology by the Tentamus laboratory “Quality Services International GmbH (QSI)” in Bremen. The NMR method used in the QSI has two advantages: firstly, it is significantly faster (hours instead of days) than the current DIN method DIN 10779, which uses HPLC after very complex sample preparation; secondly, NMR analysis consumes only a few milliliters of solvent instead of several 100 milliliters, thus protecting the environment.

Learn more about Food Fraud at https://www.tentamus.com/food-fraud

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