Modern food chain is highly complex and food is transported all around the world to satisfy consumers’ demand. However, in the last years there has been an increased interest for local products and a major attention towards food provenance. Moreover, there are goods for which the geographical origin is recognized as an added value and is highlighted through specific indications or labels.
It is known that fraudulent activities with the aim of a financial gain or illicit behaviours in trades related to origin misdeclaration are spreading and therefore tools for hindering this fraud are required.
In the agrifood sector, traceability systems are largely based on paper-records, and despite recent implementations, they are still insufficient for following all the movement of food, especially in case of international trades. Consequently, in the last decades many efforts have been made to implement analytical methods able to discriminate samples based on their geographical origin. Very often different approaches are combined together to collect more information and increase the discrimination power.
Particularly, in this review the application of multielement fingerprint and of the light and heavy elements stable isotope ratio analysis is examined, considering solely horticultural products, fresh or with slight transformation (polished rice). The main features of each technique together with an evaluation of the advantages/disadvantages and a brief description of the instruments available for these analysis are discussed. The most common multivariate approaches used for data interpretation are also reported.
A critic overview of different approaches from papers published in literature since 2000 is provided, analysing specific aspects such as the chosen approach, the number and nature of the included variables, the chemometric tools applied, and the sample size. Many authors reached satisfying classification rates, showing that these techniques are very promising in the field of food authentication and traceability and that can become useful analytical tools to support legal cases.
Keywords: traceability, food frauds, multielement composition, isotope ratio