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JRC report on using LC-IRMS to determine authenticity of honey

The Joint Research Center (JRC) published results of the LC-IRMS-analyses performed within the scope of the coordinated control plan on authenticity of honey [1].


The EA/LC-IRMS-method used in this study as well as the evaluation of the resulting data clearly need improvement, as it mostly relies on the oligosaccharides. The other parameters of this method only indicate adulteration, e.g. of a mixture of high fructose corn syrup and rice syrup, of more than 20%. The detection of C4-sugar addition is already detectable at sufficient sensitivity using the official AOAC EA-IRMS method. All in all, in many cases the LC-IRMS method does not yield additional information which would justify the higher effort.

All EU member states plus Norway and Switzerland participated.

  • 2264 honey samples were collected (45% sampled from retailers)
  • 893 (39.4%) were transferred to tier 3 (see table)
  • 127 out of those 893 otherwise compliant samples (14.2%) failed to comply to the published benchmark criteria of the EA/LC-IRMS method (adulterated)

QSI looks back on more than 60 years of experience in honey analysis including evaluation of authenticity. We emphasize that it is not possible to only rely on a single method to detect adulteration. In order to get a comprehensive overview on your sample, we recommend a suitable screening method, like our NMR HoneyProfiling™. Based on the comprehensive fingerprint delivered by HoneyProfiling™ in conjunction with the quantification of a number of key substances sound decisions on the further course of action can be made.


In case of further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


[1] JRC Technical Reports, “Results of honey authenticity testing by liquid chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry”, Ref. Ares(2016)6932951 – 13/12/2016,, last accessed Mar 24, 2017.

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