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Where is your orange juice from?

An experimental procedure that quantitatively measures 22 trace metals is being developed to identify the geographical origin of orange juice that is sold in the United States. Because trace metal abundances in soil vary widely throughout the world, each citrus region imparts its own characteristic mineral fingerprint to fruit grown there. In fact, each region's trace-metal fingerprint is so distinct that misdiagnosing the origin of an unidentified sample should be next-to-impossible, according to the technique's developer, Seifollah Nikdel of the Florida Department of Citrus in Lake Alfred.

His process employs radio-frequency heating to ionize juice samples. The values for the characteristic spectra emitted by each sample are compared by a computer against 100 sets of reference values previously calculated for fresh juice from every major citrus region marketing orange juice in the United States.

Nikdel's research was prompted out of concern that some juice being sold as "all Florida orange juice" might in fact be adulterated with less expensive juice from other regions. While this form of adulteration does not threaten human health, it could jeopardize the economic health of Florida's more than $2 billion orange juice industry. Moreover, Nikdel says, federal legislation is pending that will soon require country-of-origin labeling on all orange juice sold in the United States. When the occurs, this trace-metal mapping system could become a primary forensic tool for policing truth-in-labeling laws.
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Title Annotation:test being developed to determine geographical origin of orange juice
Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:May 11, 1985
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