Determination of provenance of food from regional production in Austria on the basis of multi-element and isotopic fingerprinting

The thematic focus of the project Classroom Science Interaction "CSI: TRACE your FOOD" is the systematic determination of unique chemical fingerprints in food from different regions in Austria for the unambiguous determination of origin.

A key objective is to determine the relationship between environmental factors (geology, soil, water chemistry, sea level, etc.) and the chemical composition of selected food commodities. Fish – as a special case – allows a time resolved link of the environment to the ear stone chemistry and thus to the life history of fish. As a consequence, the verification of new regulations was enabled regarding the labeling of fish from aquaculture according to their origin. Finally, chemical maps for the mapping of regional products in Austria, as well as an online tool for the statistical testing of samples of unknown origin were developed.

To ensure the practical and legal relevance of the results, the project was conducted in cooperation with the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) and the Agrarmarkt Austria GesmbH (AMA). Students from ten schools in all nine provinces developed the regional basis for the study (local products, environmental data, etc.) as scientists, mainly based on Web-based tools ("Citizen Science"). Within the framework of "Science Tours" the schools were visited by the university experts and the sampling of environmental samples and foods were carried out jointly. The scientific exchange and discourse took place regularly in virtual classrooms ("Virtual Science Labs"). Within the frame of the so called "Science Camp" it was possible to visit the VIRIS laboratory at BOKU-Tulln. At the end of the project the final results were presented to the public during a "Austria-snack" attended by all participating schools and the collaborating partners AGES and AMA.

This project had a Top Citizen Science-extension project.

The aim of the project "IsoPROTECT: Protecting regional food production in Austria by isotopic and multi-elemental fingerprinting" was the systematic creation of a terrestrial and aquatic isotopic landscape of Austria for determining the origin of regionally produced food.

This project has been completed.