Analytical methods that can offer fast, cost-effective and reliable food authenticity testing at several points in the food production and retail chain are urgently requested. Targeted methods still have much to offer but it is increasingly acknowledged that food is a complex matrix and should thus be treated and analyzed by techniques that can embrace this complexity. The use of non-targeted analytical methods in food authentication has therefore rapidly increased during the past decade.
The increasing use of non-targeted analyses across several scientific disciplines has brought together a mixture of analytical traditions and terminologies and terms such as profiling, signature, fingerprinting, analytical marker etc. are inconsistently used. Consequently, the scientific literature on food authentication often includes different approaches and a variety of definitions and nomenclature for both targeted and non-targeted analysis.
While non-targeted fingerprinting methods are still taking the initial steps into the food authenticity community much more work is required to validate and harmonize these methods and the associated data. An essential prerequisite is a common understanding of the analytical principles of targeted versus non-targeted food authentications. Novel definitions and nomenclature of targeted and non-targeted authentication methods will be proposed. Biological, chemical, and microscopy-based examples of targeted and non-targeted approaches will be presented while discussing the associated possibilities and limitations for analytical food authentication.


Nicolai Z. Ballin has a PhD in meat and dairy authentication from the University of Copenhagen. He has nearly 20 years of experience from both official control at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and research at the European Commission´s research centre (JRC). He is experienced in developing and validating a diverse range of chemical and molecular biology methods for food authentication, and has been responsible for reporting of a large range of official results. Through his involvement in several food fraud cases he has gained an understanding of how food fraud is officially tackled in Europe. More recently he has been interested in the definitions and nomenclature of targeted and non-targeted analytical approaches across the different scientific disciplines.