Multielement Fingerprinting as a Tool in Origin Authentication of PGI Food Products: Tropea Red Onion

Tropea red onion (Allium cepa L. var. Tropea) is among the most highly appreciated Italian products. It is cultivated in specific areas of Calabria and, due to its characteristics, was recently awarded with the protected geographical indications (PGI) certification from the European Union. A reliable classification of onion samples in groups corresponding to “Tropea” and “non-Tropea” categories is now available to the producers. This important goal has been achieved through the evaluation of three supervised chemometric approaches. Onion samples with PGI brand (120) and onion samples not cultivated following the production regulations (80) were digested by a closed-vessel microwave oven system. ICP-MS equipped with a dynamic reaction cell was used to determine the concentrations of 25 elements (Al, Ba, Ca, Cd, Ce, Cr, Dy, Eu, Fe, Ga, Gd, Ho, La, Mg, Mn, Na, Nd, Ni, Pr, Rb, Sm, Sr, Tl, Y, and Zn). The multielement fingerprint was processed using linear discriminant analysis (LDA) (standard and stepwise), soft independent modeling of class analogy (SIMCA), and back-propagation artificial neural network (BP-ANN). The cross-validation procedure has shown good results in terms of the prediction ability for all of the chemometric models: standard LDA, 94.0%; stepwise LDA, 94.5%; SIMCA, 95.5%; and BP-ANN, 91.5%.