Dutch cheese

Food fraud and Composition

Is Tuscan olive oil really from Tuscany? And are these organic eggs really organic? These are examples of the type of authenticity and nutrient related questions which Wageningen Food Safety Research deals with on a regular basis.

Food fraud and product composition

Consumers are frequently confronted with news regarding food fraud incidents. Although it may seem that food fraud incidents have only occurred in recent years, food fraud is as old as mankind. Take, for instance, selling chalk for cheese and mixing wine with water.

Detecting and factors contributing to food fraud

Although Wageningen Food Safety Research’s research is primarily aimed at developing fraud detection methods, we also examine factors that contribute to food fraud. This knowledge can be used to take preventive measures.

Detecting food fraud

Wageningen Food Safety Research helps detect food fraud by determining, for instance, the composition of a product. We also evaluate how a product is produced and where it comes from. 

Answering questions like these often requires so-called analytical fingerprints. These can be assessed by combining advanced analytical techniques with statistical methods. This allows us, for instance, to determine whether or not an egg is organic and where a batch of cocoa beans comes from.

Read more about the study ‘Food’s Fingerprint reveals many secrets’.

Wageningen Food Safety Research detects fraud regarding:

The composition


Production methods

Geographical origin

Read more about the study ‘Identification of species

Some spices are also susceptible to fraud
Some spices are also susceptible to fraud

Factors contributing to food fraud

In collaboration with VU University Amsterdam, Wageningen Food Safety Research also examines factors contributing to food fraud. The following aspects play a role in this:

  • a suitable product
  • a motivated perpetrator
  • a lack of control measures

Our research on fraud includes the following topics:

  • organic eggs, milk and meat
  • farmhouse cheese
  • geographical origin of olive oil, cocoa beans and bananas
  • traditional ham from a farm in the Dutch region of Twente
  • farmed fish or wild fish
  • sustainable palm oil


In the Netherlands, there is a surplus of fertilisers. A special act states the amount of fertilisers allowed and the quality of fertilisers required in soil. Non-compliance with this law may cause environmental damage. Wageningen Food Safety Research’s legal task is to:

  • determine the composition and authenticity of fertiliser
  • ensure the quality of commercial laboratories assessing phosphorus and nitrogen levels in fertiliser

Fermenter co-product calculation tool
We also have a calculation tool (only available in Dutch) at our disposal that helps determine whether materials are allowed to be added as co-products to a fertiliser in a fermenter.