Very often, Finnish consumers tend to be particular about buying domestically grown produce. This is especially the case when it comes to summer treats such as strawberries – even though they are often pricier than imports. As a result, some vendors at markets and shops claim that foreign berries are domestic to boost sales and profit margins.
Now, in an effort to stamp out efforts to pass off imported strawberries as domestic, the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the Finnish Food Safety Authority have developed a system to check the origin of berries. They have compiled a database on Finnish strawberries that should help to uncover fakes.
“Fraudulent food labelling has become an increasingly hot topic in recent years. Finnish strawberries are a valuable commodity, which makes them vulnerable to origin fraud. The geographical origin of berries is difficult to verify, and traceability information gets lost along the long supply chain. The analytical technique, which is based on stable, nonradioactive isotopes, solves the problem,” says Annikki Welling, head of the Food Safety Authority’s chemistry unit.
Municipal authorities have been set up to use the testing procedure on samples for retail sites. So far the method can differentiate domestic berries from those grown in Poland and Sweden. Later this year it will be expanded to include comparisons with Estonian strawberries.