BACKGROUND: Rice is an important staple food that is consumed around the world. Like many foods, the price of rice varies considerably, from very inexpensive for a low-quality product to premium pricing for highly prized varieties from specific locations. Therefore, like other foods it is vulnerable to economically motivated adulteration through substitution or misrepresentation of inferior-quality rice for more expensive varieties.
OBJECTIVE: In this article we describe results of a research project focused on addressing potential food fraud issues related to rice supplies in China, India, Vietnam, and Ghana. Rice fraud manifests differently in each country; therefore, tailored solutions were required.
METHOD: Here we describe a two-tiered testing regime of rapid screening using portable Near Infrared technology supported by second tier testing using mass spectrometry-based analysis of suspicious samples.
RESULTS: Portable Near Infrared spectroscopy models and laboratory-based Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry methods were developed to differentiate between: high-value Basmati rice varieties and their potential adulterants; six Geographic Indicated protected rice varieties from specific regions within China; various qualities of rice in Ghana and Vietnam; and locally produced and imported rice in Ghana. Furthermore, an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry method was developed to support the Chinese rice varieties methods as well as a Liquid Chromatography Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry method for quality differentiation in Vietnam.
CONCLUSIONS/HIGHLIGHTS: This two-tier approach can provide a substantially increased level of testing through rapid screening outside of the laboratory with the reassurance of corroborating mass spectrometry-based laboratory analysis to support decision making.