The potential of biogenic fraction analysis by radiocarbon in food, drug, and cosmetic products

Tamás Varga, Dóra Szejke, Zoltán Nemes, A. J.Timothy Jull, Mihály Molnár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biobased content analysis is a well-established, analytically independent, standardized method to determine the biobased content of fuels and plastics, based on differences of the specific radiocarbon (14C) activity of fossil and recent biogenic compounds. This biogenic content analysis can be useful for the producers as a quality assurance tool, for the customers as feedback about the truly biobased products and for the control organizations as an independent analytical tool to prove the biological origin. More than 100 commercially available foods, cosmetics, and drug samples have been used for biobased carbon content analysis by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C measurement to demonstrate the potential of this technique. Our results show that this measurement technique is a unique tool for the determination of biocontent in foodstuff and medical products. Most of the tested materials were nearly or completely biobased (≥ 98 pMC), and no completely fossil-based final product was detected. The lowest biogenic compound was measured in a vanilla aroma flavor. In 45 of the 102 samples selected a wide range (2-98%) presented fossil-based carbon content. The method can be applied for monitoring raw materials and final products for biobased content in the industry and consumer protection as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1176-1192
Number of pages17
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 7 2023


  • biobased content
  • biogenic fraction
  • drug
  • food
  • radiocarbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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