Lemon juice is a popular target for counterfeits in the food sector. Fraudsters for instance use undeclared blends with lime juice. To identify counterfeits, lime-specific secondary plant compounds – coumarins and furanocoumarins – are usually analyzed. This testing procedure, however, is not without controversy among juice producers who believe that certain machine settings can also result in an analyte profile that might be mistaken for a blend.
Within the scope of his master thesis, the Geisenheim graduate Philipp Lotz examined if over-extracted lemon juice can be distinguished unequivocally from blends with lime juice on the basis of coumarins. For his research, which can make an important contribution to identify counterfeits in the food sector, he received the Gerd Erbslöh Prize worth 750 euros on November 18, 2020.
The prize was awarded by the Gerd Erbslöh Foundation which was founded by the Geisenheim entrepreneur Gerd Erbslöh in 2008. Its aim is to fund bachelor, master and doctoral theses that promote the development of Hochschule Geisenheim University or represent outstanding academic achievements in the area of beverage technology and enology. As part of the virtual award ceremony, Dr. Jörg Möller, Managing Director of Erbslöh Geisenheim GmbH, awarded the prize followed by a presentation held by the laureate himself in which he pointed out that counterfeits in the food sector could increase during years with poor harvests.
The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Ralf Schweiggert, Head of Department of Beverage Technology at Hochschule Geisenheim University, and Prof. Dr. Matthias Frisch, Professor for Biometry and Population Genetics at Justus Liebig University, Gießen, that co-organizes the M.Sc Beverage Technology program.
The findings will also be on the agenda of a web-based seminar in January 2021 hosted by Hochschule Geisenheim University in co-operation with the German Enologists Association (BDO). On that occasion, Prof. Dr. Ralf Schweiggert and Dipl.-Ing. Michael Ludwig will extensively discuss the topic of counterfeiting in the beverage industry with interested participants.