BACKGROUND: Analytical traceability of PGI and PDO foods (Protected Geographical Indication and Protected Denomination Origin respectively) is one of the most challenging tasks of current applied research. RESULTS: Here we proposed a metabolomic approach based on the combination of 1H high-resolution magic angle spinning-nuclear magnetic resonance (HRMAS-NMR) spectroscopy with multivariate analysis, i.e. PLS-DA, as a reliable tool for the traceability of Italian PGI chicories (Cichorium intybus L.), i.e. Radicchio Rosso di Treviso and Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco, also known as red and red-spotted, respectively. The metabolic profile was gained by means of HRMAS-NMR, and multivariate data analysis allowed us to build statistical models capable of providing clear discrimination among the two varieties and classification according to the geographical origin. CONCLUSION: Based on Variable Importance in Projection values, the molecular markers for classifying the different types of red chicories analysed were found accounting for both the cultivar and the place of origin.
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