NUTRIGENOMICS- Role in Understanding Adulterant Detection

Nutrigenomics is a branch of nutritional science that studies the relationship between nutrition and genes in food. If we talk about food, nutrigenomics is helping to find the interaction on a nutrition based level, between the food and other dietary supplements which may be bioactive in nature. To study the effect of food on human health, it is wise to understand the effect of nutritional regime.

Adulterant Detection (Fingerprinting Food)

With the growing population, the demand of food has also increased. To feed the huge number of people, including the poor section of the sector, adulteration plays a criminal role. In simple terms, adulteration means the incorporation or addition of unwanted substances from outside that may meteorite the quality of the product. Food is said to be adulterated when its composition gets disrupted. When the nutritional composition in foods gets hampered due to addition of unwanted substances, generally done intentionally here, then food is said to be adulterated.

If we talk about India, government has recorded that in the last 5 years, the rate of adulteration has increased in food products like ghee, milk, butter, mineral water, red chilli powder, black pepper cloves, etc. Rice being adulterated with stones to increase the weight overall per kilogram, mustard oil being mixed with rice bran oil, synthetic milk made out of urea, has increased worries amongst people and brings into action some serious safety measures that the government must take. Likewise, quantities of failed samples of ghee and ice cream were 23 percent in the year 2011, which increased to 45 percent by 2012. After several tests conducted in 2016, levels of nicotine and caffeine in the “pan masalas” increased worries. High levels of economic adulteration and misbranding have been a serious issue and companies need to make strong vigilance to check the issue.

Food printing tells the origin of the food sample. It is the effective way to study the filth of adulteration. Food fingerprinting studies food criminology. Food has a direct link to food safety and high rates of chemicals and pesticides, harmful for the food chain, have been noted. Modern technologies include vibrational spectroscopy: near-infrared, mid-infrared, Raman; NMR spectroscopy, as well as a range of mass spectrometry (MS) techniques, amongst others. Food printing checks the composition of food within a few seconds, even through the packaging material. DNA analysis and advanced protein identification techniques are currently used to distinguish between organic and inorganic coffees and eggs. Quality of olive oil, adulteration of nuts and authenticity of bananas are the few examples that include fingerprinting work.

The conventional approach of testing included – first, the analyses of foreign particle present in the sample – second, studying the deviation of the expected value from the natural one.

There is an evolving trend in authentication of fraud. A number of researchers are developing sophisticated profiling methods based on spectroscopy or chromatography to yield detailed product profiles that are more likely to vary or be perturbed if a product is modified. The sad scenario is that these methods are costly, especially in developing countries like India.

An alternative approach has been made to tackle the problems related to check the samples called Global Fingerprint Monitoring (GFM). The GFM programs monitor incoming raw materials, production samples and finished goods. This technology determines similarity or difference between two or more samples. To make it simple in understanding, two samples can be tested with a series of automated dye-binding assays, and the results can be compared to determine the degree of similarity or difference. This fingerprinting process takes only a few minutes per sample with the high throughput robotics.

NeutrigenomicsGFM in food technology provides quantization of caffeine (ppm levels ±2%); detection, to ppb levels, of pesticides; beverage stretch or dilutions as small as 2%; easy detection of 10% hydrolyzed insulin syrups in apple juice concentrate; and frequent detection in the low ppm range of incidental contaminations, such as solvents or cleaning solutions.

More modern methods involve chemical fingerprinting. This method works by isolating individual component of the sample. This helps to understand the chemical makeup, in order to study every sample individually. This would help to compare between the pure and the impure sample giving correct results. This is currently in development and would allow testing of meats, oils or cheeses to find out how fit the sample is for consumption.


The increase in global population will demand increased food supply, fresh water and arable land, thereby contributing to significant environmental impacts. In addition, food safety concerns, nutrition deficiencies, postharvest losses, issues related to policy and regulations and consumer attitudes are prominent challenges. Despite these concerns for the future, the continuous push for research and technological advancements must continue if we are to successfully address global food security and sustainability issues.


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Food Marketing & Technology is a monthly magazine published by L.B. Associates Pvt Ltd

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