Coop Italia is a leader in wholesale distribution that operates the largest supermarket chain in Italy.
Detection of fraud and adulteration in food products using an electronic nose
It works as a central purchasing service which strictly controls the products before selection.
Founded in 1967, Coop Italia now gathers more than 135 consumers’ cooperatives with more than 1,300 shops and 55,000 employees. Coop Italia is strongly committed to food safety and quality and conducts more than 3 million tests on consumer goods per year.
Coop Italia was one of the first Italian company to purchase the latest Fast Gas Chromatography electronic nose from Alpha MOS. The laboratory of Quality Control located at the headquarters in Casalecchio di Reno selected a HERACLES Electronic Nose with an aim to detect potential fraud on food products origin.
Mr. Gottardi, Sensory Area Manager at Coop Italia, explains: “Some months ago, before purchasing the instrument, we visited the manufacturer, Alpha MOS, in their headquarters in France. We brought some samples of olive oil, which is a product that suffers a high risk of adulteration. We could see that HERACLES could not only distinguish genuine from adulterated oils but also recognize the region of origin such as Tuscany, Puglia or Liguria.”
“Thanks to the electronic nose […] we will be able to offer our customers products of high, reliable quality, and conform to the labelling”
Further to a large scale inspection campaign conducted in 2011 by the Italian Institute for Food Quality and Fraud Inspection having shown that 12% of the tested food products were fraudulent, Coop Italia decided to launch an important campaign on food safety and quality in the upcoming months. Coop Italia will select ten products typical of the Mediterranean diet (olive oil, wine, honey, balsamic vinegar, milk, cheese, etc) in order to detect common frauds such as addition of water in wine, adulteration of extra virgin olive oil by blending with poor quality oils, illegal organic labelling while products contain traces of phytosanitary treatments.
Mrs Scaramagli, Molecular Biological Area Manager at Coop Italia, comments: “Thanks to the electronic nose, it will be possible to achieve fast and trustworthy analysis of food products and thus we should be able to offer our customers products of high, reliable quality and conform to the labelling.” In a near future, Coop Italia plans to extend the fraud testing to other products (canned tomato, cereals, etc) and also to use the instrument for detecting possible contamination from the packaging or the preservatives and colorants employed.