Authenticity testing of organically grown vegetables by stable isotope ratio analysis of oxygen in plant-derived sulphate

Vlastimil Novak, Josefine Adler, Søren Husted, Arvid Fromberg, Kristian Holst Laursen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Analytical methods for authenticity testing of organically grown vegetables are urgently needed. Here we present a novel method for organic authentication based on stable isotope ratio analysis of oxygen in plant-derived sulphate. We combined this method with stable isotope ratio analysis of bulk plant tissue and plant-derived nitrate to discriminate organic and conventional potato, carrot, and cabbage from rigidly controlled long-term field trials and from a case study using retail potatoes. It was shown that oxygen isotope ratios of sulphate from organic vegetables were significantly lower compared to their conventional counterparts and the values were directly linked to the fertilisation strategy. The classification power of sulphate isotope analysis was superior compared to known bulk tissue isotope markers and nitrate isotope values. In conclusion, oxygen isotope analysis of plant-derived sulphate represents a promising new method for authentication of organic vegetables.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Chemistry
Pages (from-to)59-67
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Authentication
  • Compound-specific
  • Organic agriculture
  • Plants
  • Stable isotopes
  • Sulphate
  • Vegetables

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