In the present study near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy was used to assess the geographical traceability of salted ripened anchovies, whose raw product originated from fishing areas of Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, and Croatia. Two different products were tested: semi-finished and finished salted anchovies. The development and optimization of combined discrimination models based on orthogonal partial least square-discriminant analysis successfully led to the identification of the geographical origin of both anchovy datasets with >98% sensitivity, >99% specificity, and >99% accuracy on average. While NIR absorption bands related to proteins and degradation compounds highly characterized samples from Morocco and those of unsaturated lipids and derivatives globally contradistinguished anchovies from Tunisia, absorptions of both protein and lipid compounds were responsible for the discrimination of samples from Croatia and Spain. The proposed method is particularly helpful to guarantee the authenticity of salted ripened anchovies and, thus, to deter commercial frauds throughout the fish value chain and ensure traceability along the whole food chain.
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