A new test can prove the geographic origin of mineral water according to scientists.
Its use could be extended to other foods such as meat and honey in order to stamp out products being sold fraudulently.
The new process – called food mapping – was unveiled at a conference in Crete.
The findings were based on tests carried out on 20 samples of water – some of which were tap and some bottled.
Scientists checked whether the test could verify which two were from Spanish mineral water producer Insalus.
The lab tests correctly identified which of the anonymous samples came from the Spanish region where the Insalus mineral water was sourced.
Food mapping works by comparing the levels of oxygen, hydrogen and different minerals in the samples. It narrows down their origins to a specific geographic area.
Testing was carried out at the Central Science Laboratory in York and another centre in Germany. The research was part-funded by the UK’s Food Standards Agency.
The project was co-founded by Dr Jurian Hoogewerff, senior lecturer in analytical and forensic chemistry at the University of East Anglia.
Dr Hoogewerff said food mapping could be used to tackle fraudulent claims about the origins of bottled water and, in future, about other types of food.
‘The reason why it is significant is that now we have this test for traceability, and we have chemical methods to really check these claims,’ he said.
The research was commissioned by Trace, a European Commission-funded project which aims to improve consumer confidence in food authenticity.
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