Review of validation and reporting of non-targeted fingerprinting approaches for food authentication
Food fingerprinting approaches are expected to become a very potent tool in authentication processes aiming at a comprehensive characterization of complex food matrices. By non-targeted spectrometric or spectroscopic chemical analysis with a subsequent (multivariate) statistical evaluation of acquired data, food matrices can be investigated in terms of their geographical origin, species variety or possible adulterations. Although many successful research projects have already demonstrated the feasibility of non-targeted fingerprinting approaches, their uptake and implementation into routine analysis and food surveillance is still limited. In many proof-of-principle studies, the prediction ability of only one data set was explored, measured within a limited period of time using one instrument within one laboratory. Thorough validation strategies that guarantee reliability of the respective data basis and that allow conclusion on the applicability of the respective approaches for its fit-for-purpose have not yet been proposed. Within this review, critical steps of the fingerprinting workflow were explored to develop a generic scheme for multivariate model validation. As a result, a proposed scheme for “good practice” shall guide users through validation and reporting of non-targeted fingerprinting results. Furthermore, food fingerprinting studies were selected by a systematic search approach and reviewed with regard to (a) transparency of data processing and (b) validity of study results. Subsequently, the studies were inspected for measures of statistical model validation, analytical method validation and quality assurance measures. In this context, issues and recommendations were found that might be considered as an actual starting point for developing validation standards of non-targeted metabolomics approaches for food authentication in the future. Hence, this review intends to contribute to the harmonization and standardization of food fingerprinting, both required as a prior condition for the authentication of food in routine analysis and official control.