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Ben Williams

Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager

AHDB Pork Knowledge Exchange


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T: work 024 7647 8623

Isotope analysis and provenance of pig meat

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Research partners: Longhand Data Limited, AHDB Pork and QMS

Sponsors: AHDB Pork and QMS

Duration: 2009 – 2010 

Aims and objectives

  • To evaluate comprehensively stable isotope analysis for the origin verification of pork and pork products
  • To establish a reference database as the benchmark against which future test samples can be compared for origin verification. 

The main purpose of the project was to establish a reference database and use samples of known origin (presented blind to the laboratory) to provide a robust test its use for origin verification. A successful outcome would be to have sufficient confidence in the results to use the database as the basis for supplementing paper-based audits. 


  • Good separation can be achieved of samples from Britain against samples of other origin
  • Samples from Ireland are difficult to separate: (a) because it is not possible to separate clearly the isotopic signatures of Northern Ireland and Eire and; (b) because Irish pork shows a greater similarity with pork from continental Europe than does British pork, probably due to feed imports
  • Origin verification is more difficult for processed products
  • Overall it can be concluded that isotope analysis against the known database is a very useful tool to use alongside more traditional supply chain auditing techniques to provide increased confidence to customers that the correct information is on the label. 

Further information

Download Final Report - Authentication of Country of Origin of Pork and Pig Meat
using Isotope Reference Analysis