Close examinations of the composition of egg yolk reveal the distinctions between egg production systems. This enables Wageningen Food Safety Research to establish whether eggs are or are not organic.
Although organic eggs are more expensive than free range eggs and barn eggs, they do actually not look any different. For this reason, Wageningen Food Safety Research developed a method to verify that eggs are justifiably labelled as 'organic eggs'. The clue lies in the egg's 'fingerprint'. Compounds in the egg yolk betray eggs laid by hens that did not receive organic feed.
The principle employed in this method can also be used for similar purposes with other products. The first results from methods used to identify organic milk, organic ham, PDO (protected designation of origin) cheeses, and the geographical origins of butter and olive oil have already been published and/or presented.
Researchers are currently working on the further development of these methods for use with other products, including the identification of organic animal feed, the distinction between wild caught fish and farmed fish, and the identification of sustainably produced palm oil.