Economically motivated adulterations of food, in general, and spices, in particular, are an emerging threat to world health. Reliable techniques for the rapid screening of counterfeited ingredients in the supply chain need further development. Building on the experience gained with CO2 lasers, the Diagnostic and Metrology Laboratory of ENEA realized a compact and user-friendly photoacoustic laser system for food fraud detection, based on a quantum cascade laser. The sensor has been challenged with saffron adulteration. Multivariate data analysis tools indicated that the photoacoustic laser system was able to detect adulterants at mass ratios of 2% in less than two minutes.
Keywords: agrofood chain; food fraud; laser spectroscopy; photoacoustic technique; quantum cascade laser application.