Special Issue "Integrity, Authentication, Adulteration, Contamination and Quality Control of Botanicals Used in Foods, Novel Foods and Food Supplements"

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Quality and Safety".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 29 February 2024 | Viewed by 1768

Special Issue Editors

Department of Food and Drug, Università di Parma, Parma, Italy
Interests: phytochemistry; herbal and medicinal plants; plant bioactives; extraction and characterisation of natural compounds; botanicals
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
1. Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, Wageningen University, 6708, WE, Wageningen, The Netherlands
2. Wageningen Food Safety Research, Wageningen University & Research, 6700, AE, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: food safety; natural toxins; food supplements integrity; metabolomics; mass spectrometry
Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Via Irnerio, 42, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Interests: plant science; natural products; metabolomics; structure elucidation; multivariate data analysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Botanicals must comply with all relevant requirements of multiple legislations regarding their composition, quality, and safety. Their presence, besides in foods and plant-based dietary supplements, also involves novel foods. The consistency of production, including between the label and actual content, is crucial wherever any claim is made for botanical-based preparation. At the same time, the absence of mislabelled plants and harmful substances, such as mycotoxins, contaminants, and undeclared pharmaceuticals must be warranted.

However, multiple concerns emerge regularly: botanical-based products are reportedly affected by unreliable content, batch-to-batch variability, substitution with cheaper ingredients and fillers, adulterations with undeclared substances, contamination with mycotoxins, and lack of authenticity. This scenario acts to the detriment of market fairness, of consumers' health, and trust in these products. To some extent, both conflicting results in clinical trials, difficult translations of scientific evidence into actual effectiveness, the emergence of adverse effects, and the unreliability of risk–benefit evaluations may be linked to erratic quality. This has prompted to advocate for stricter quality controls and more efficacious analytical approaches that are capable of dealing with multiple issues in a single analysis. At the same time, a proper evaluation of commercial products is often lacking, leading to unreliable estimates of the actual exposure to harmful substances that may be present in food supplements and in a growing number of novel foods based on plants.

In this Special Issue, we invite researchers to contribute original research and review articles on analytical methods aimed at the authentication and quality control of botanicals, food supplements, and novel foods based on plants. The detection and quantification of any form of adulteration, substitution, or contamination are also included. While spectroscopic, chromatographic, molecular, and pharmacognostic methods are welcome, if they are applied to actual commercial materials, a particular emphasis will be placed on metabolomic approaches. Special interest will be devoted to the screening of commercial products by means of consolidated analytical methods to pinpoint the actual extension of frauds, adulterations, and contaminations.

Dr. Renato Bruni
Dr. Laura Righetti
Dr. Manuela Mandrone
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Foods is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • food supplements
  • functional foods
  • novel foods
  • botanicals
  • quality control
  • metabolomics
  • food integrity

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Fingerprint of Characteristic Saffron Compounds as Novel Standardization of Commercial Crocus sativus Extracts
Foods 2023, 12(8), 1634; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12081634 - 13 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1014
Food supplements based on saffron (Crocus sativus L.) dried stigma extracts are widely consumed due to their multiple bioactive properties. Saffron extract (SE) standardization is of crucial importance, as it determines the reproducibility of the product quality and is essential for the [...] Read more.
Food supplements based on saffron (Crocus sativus L.) dried stigma extracts are widely consumed due to their multiple bioactive properties. Saffron extract (SE) standardization is of crucial importance, as it determines the reproducibility of the product quality and is essential for the evaluation of its bioactive effect and safety. Although SEs are commonly standardized considering their safranal content, the lack of specificity of the official methods may give inaccurate measurements. In addition to the development of more precise methodologies, the evaluation of alternative saffron components, such as crocins and picrocrocin, for standardization purposes would also be of interest. Thus, in this study, qualitative and quantitative information regarding picrocrocin and crocin isomers of different commercial saffron extracts was first obtained by a validated methodology using liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to diode array (DAD) and mass spectrometer (MS) detectors. Principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to gain insight into the compositional variability and natural grouping of SE. These studies suggested the potential use of the relative content of crocin isomers and trans-/cis-crocins and trans-4 GG/picrocrocin ratios as novel criteria for SE standardization. Their reproducibility and stability under controlled storage conditions for 36 months was demonstrated in a commercial standardized SE (affron®). Full article
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