Researchers from Switzerland’s technology and natural sciences university, ETH Zurich, have reportedly developed a method of tagging olive oil that can determine the product’s origin and whether it has been adulterated. Consisting of tiny, magnetic DNA particles encapsulated in a silica casing that are mixed with the oil, a few grams of the material are enough to tag the entire olive oil production of Italy. According to the researchers, if counterfeiting is suspected, the particles added at the place of origin can be extracted from the oil and analyzed, revealing the original producer. “The method is equivalent to a label that cannot be removed,” said researcher Robert Grass.
Lab experiments evidently revealed that the tags dispersed well in the oil, did not affect clarity or taste, remained stable when heated, and passed a twoyear aging trial. Research also showed that the analysis and testing method “can be carried out today by any medical lab at minimal expense.” Grass observes that the potential for use of invisible labels in the food industry, where adulterated and counterfeit products generate vast profits for criminals, is substantial. The researchers also suggested that the tagging method could be used for gasoline and cosmetics. See ETH Zurich News Release, April 24, 2014.