February 25, 2009 — Scientists
in Germany are reporting development of a new, more effective method to
determine whether milk marketed as “organic” is genuine or just
ordinary milk mislabeled to hoodwink consumers. Their report appears in
the current edition of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
the study, Joachim Molkentin and colleagues point out that organic milk
has soared in popularity in many countries. Sales in Germany, for
instance, rose by almost one-third between 2006 and 2007. Consequently,
crooks may take advantage of the situation by marketing increasing
quantities of fake organic milk. That situation created a need for
better tests to detect the fraud.
address the issue, the scientists developed a test based on an analysis
of milk fat for the ratio of stable isotopes of carbon. They used it to
identify milk samples from cows raised on feed containing a higher
ration of maize. Such a feeding regimen is typical of conventional milk
production. Organically raised cows are fed less maize but more pasture
feed. In addition, the team identified a significant difference in the
alpha-linolenic acid content of milk fat between organic and
conventional milk samples. Organic milk typically has a higher
alpha-linolenic acid content than conventional milk.
— News release courtesy of American Chemical Society