This paper presents the investigation of strontium isotope ratios of about 650 different European natural mineral waters as part of the food traceability project "TRACE" funded by the EU. Analysed 87Sr/86Sr values in the natural mineral waters range from 0.7035 to 0.7777, which indicates an influence by a great diversity of rocks from young mantle derived basaltic rocks to very old silicic continental crust.
The results of the large scale investigation are used to elaborate a novel spatial prediction for strontium isotope ratios by combining the measured data with a GIS based geological map of Europe.
The resulting map can be used to predict the strontium isotopic composition of groundwater and thus the composition of bio-available strontium, which is available for uptake by plants and subsequently transferred into the food chain. We also show, as an example, that the strontium isotopic composition of honey and wheat from specific sample regions within the TRACE project correlates well with that of the natural mineral water as predicted by our map.
The proof of principle shown in our paper is highly relevant for geographical food authentication as it allows an assessment of the origin of food products without the immediate need for geographically authenticated materials which may not always be available. Our approach provides a cost effective first instance screening tool.