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Vanilla – Real, expensive

…but not always real.

Bremen, Planegg Genuine vanilla has the reputation of being an exquisit spice which is reflected in its price. Depictions of vanilla beans on a vanillin containing product are often used to highlight exclusiveness. But beware! Not all vanillin used is actually extracted from genuine vanilla, i.e. Vanilla planifolia or Vanilla tahitiensis. In fact, the amount of vanillin produced from genuine vanilla is not nearly enough to meet industry demands.

Far cheaper „articficial“ vanillin produced synthetically is often used as substitute. According to offers on „alibaba.com“ prices for this kind of vanillin ranges from ten to twenty Euros per kg, sometimes even less, while genuine vanilla is worth more than 150 Euro per kg1 (see figure 1).
Importers of vanillin containing products want to protect themselves from fraud in order to prevent financial losses and guard against claims from clients in case of resale of the products. Naturally, the consumer who pays for genuine vanilla expects to get the real, natural vanilla extract and not a cheap substitute. This demonstrates the necessity to be able to distinguish synthetically produced vanillin from that extracted from genuine vanille beans.Recently, this has been achieved by a collaboration of two labs of the Tentamus Group, aromaLAB (Munich, Germany) and Quality Services International (QSI, Bremen, Germany). aromaLAB developed the extraction method while QSI performs the analyses by means of isotopic ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS). The method measures isotope fractionation, which differs between synthesized vanillin and that of genuine vanilla bean extract. As such this method is able to identify whether vanillin has been extracted from a genuine vanilla bean. It is now possible to provide an effective means to protect buyers of vanillin from fraudulent goods and thus from financial loss.

1Data from EU Market Access Database: http://madb.europa.eu/…


Would you like to know more? Please contact our experts:

Arne Dübecke
Global Center of Excellence for Food Fraud
Flughafendamm 9a
28199 Bremen
+49-421-596 607 37
Dr. Monika Christlbauer
aromaLAB GmbH
Semmelweisstr. 3
82152 Planegg
+ 49-89-897 437 00










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