Forensic experts at Glass Technology Services Ltd (GTS) are helping food and drink companies to beat the counterfeiters.

The glass research and analysis specialists are taking an innovative approach using methods such as refractive index measurement and spectroscopy, used extensively in forensic science laboratories, to support brand owners, authorities and other stakeholders in identifying counterfeit products such as perfumes, cosmetics and spirits.

Glass Refractive Index Measurement (GRIM3), Fourier Transform Infra-Red spectroscopy (FTIR) and Wavelength Dispersive Spectroscopy X-Ray Fluorescence (WDS-XRF) equipment is being utilised to analyse both glass and plastic packaging – thought to be at a fraction of the time and cost of analysing the high value counterfeit products themselves.

GTS Development Technologist Andrew Broadhurst, who previously worked with the Forensic Science Service, said: “The time and cost of laboratory analysis for premium spirits or prestige perfume and skincare products, for example, can be substantial. It can be a much quicker and more cost-effective process to spot a fake by analysing key differences between genuine and ‘suspect’ packaging.

“If the container is a fake, it is almost certain that the product will also be counterfeit.”

“Using GRIM3 equipment, we can very precisely determine whether the refractive index of glass matches that of the claimed manufacturer and the batch it came from. Counterfeiters simply cannot replicate glass composition – even if it looks exactly the same or uses exactly the same ratio of raw materials. Glasses that appear the same, but are made from different raw materials, have unique chemical element markers – akin to finger-prints or DNA – and this alone, in some cases, can give a definitive answer as to whether the glass is from the genuine source.

“Our WDS-XRF and GRIM processes provide even greater detail with which to compare composition – giving vital evidence to manufacturers and brand owners pursuing claims against suspected fraudsters.”

GTS experts have also worked on major research projects to develop anti-counterfeiting products for the glass market, including invisible inks, micro-chipping and specialist markers. One key avenue that could be explored, with sufficient support from brand owners and manufacturers, would be the establishment of a database to fingerprint the exact characteristics of all genuine suppliers, monitoring variations in batch production – allowing an item to be compared to the claimed production time and manufacturer.

Glass Technology Services Ltd provides analysis, consultancy, testing and research and development support to all parts of the glass supply chain – from raw materials to the end consumer. GTS prides itself on its confidentiality and independence, is accredited to ISO:9001, 14001 and 17025 quality standards and is a notified body (2461). For more information please visit, email [email protected] or telephone +44 (0) 114 290 1801

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