High-resolution mass spectrometry-based metabolomics for the discrimination between organic and conventional crops: A review

Alina Mihailova*, Simon D. Kelly, Olivier P. Chevallier, Christopher T. Elliott, Britt M. Maestroni, Andrew Cannavan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Global food regulations and consumer demands require that the provenance of food can be traced from farm to fork. Currently organic products are not routinely tested for authenticity even though they have substantial added value and are therefore clear targets for fraud. In recent years there has been a rising number of cases of misrepresentation of conventional produce as organic. Various analytical techniques have been applied for the authentication of organic crops over the past decade, but the lack of reliable markers and the diversity of organic and conventional cultivation strategies present challenges for the development of robust analytical methods that can be used routinely in food control systems. Scope and approach: Novel approaches such as high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) metabolomics are increasingly being applied for the authentication of foods. This paper reviews the latest applications, advantages, challenges and future perspectives of targeted and untargeted metabolomics for discrimination between organic and conventional crops. Key findings and conclusions: A growing number of studies report the potential of HRMS-based metabolomics approaches for discrimination between organic and conventional crops. Various primary and secondary metabolites are reported as markers for organic production. Approaches using data from combined techniques, such as untargeted and targeted metabolomics or metabolomics and stable isotope analysis, can improve the robustness of discriminative models and require further validation. Standardization of untargeted analyses and generation of HRMS metabolomics databases are required to facilitate the wider use of untargeted metabolomics for the authentication of organic crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-154
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
Early online date05 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
C. T. Elliott and O. P. Chevallier would like to acknowledge the support of the EIT Food Project ?The development of organic supply chains that drive fair, transparent and healthy options for the consumer?.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Conventional crops
  • Food authentication
  • High-resolution mass spectrometry
  • Organic crops
  • Targeted metabolomics
  • Untargeted metabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science


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