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News announcement27 July 2021

Wine fraud – How genuine is your wine?

Adulteration of wine is a worldwide issue affecting consumers. The JRC just released a Certified Reference Material (CRM) to verify the authenticity of wines.

Certified Reference Material to verify the authenticity of wines.
Certified Reference Material to verify the authenticity of wines.
© Microgen - stock.adobe.com, 2021

The JRC has developed a new quality control tool able to verify the authenticity of wines.

Are you a vintage wine lover? You do not hesitate to spend money for a good bottle of wine recommended by your sommelier. But how to know that the wine you bought is matching with what is described on the label?

The JRC just released a Certified Reference Material (CRM) to verify the authenticity of wines, replacing the previous batch that was sold out due to the high demand.

This CRM, named ERM-AE003, is a chemical substance with specific properties that scientists can use in a lab to calibrate measurements needed to assess a wine’s authenticity.

It will allow control laboratories to check if a claim declared on the label is truthful regarding the wine’s vintage, geographical origin and/or non-declared sugar addition or dilution with water. The CRM will ensure that correct testing results enable reliable fraud detection.

Reliable measurements for detecting food frauds

Adulteration of wine is a worldwide issue affecting consumers. It is also confronting the honest wine producers with unfair competition, as falsified wines are marketed as high-quality products.

Wine fraud costs the regular EU wine sector an estimated 1.3 billion euro per year, around 3% of the total sales value.

More than one million litres of counterfeit alcoholic beverages were seized across Europe in 2020 and over 1.7 million in 2021 – the largest quantity being wine – in targeted actions regularly led by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) as part of joint Europol-Interpol operations called OPSON.

For detecting fraudulent products, testing results of suspect wine samples are compared to data obtained on authentic wine samples contained in the European Union Wine Databank. To obtain accurate measurement data, analytical laboratories use a CRM to calibrate their results.

Background

The JRC provides analytical tools that allow Member States to achieve reliable and comparable measurement results to support the harmonised implementation of the strict rules set up in EU food safety legislation. These tools include, among others, validated methods and reference materials. They are available to laboratories across and beyond the EU.

JRC has a catalogue of Certified Reference Materials, which are materials that are certified to verify the correctness of measurements or to calibrate them. The JRC is one of the major developers and producers of reference materials in the world. It currently provides over 760 reference materials, and distributes around 20,000 units per year to testing laboratories worldwide.

The JRC runs also the Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality (KC-FFQ), which provides and shares up-to-date scientific knowledge on food fraud and food quality issues.

It coordinates market surveillance activities and operates early warning and information system for food fraud. Assuring safety along the food supply chain is a key priority for the European Commission.

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Details

Publication date
27 July 2021