There is an increasing demand of the consumers and actors of the food industry sector to have means of measurement allowing the characterisation of raw materials or food. Dairy products (milk, ice cream, yogurt, butter, cheese, etc.) are in considerable demand, command premium prices and are, therefore, vulnerable to economic adulteration. Authenticity of these products is an important issue for food processors, retailers, regulatory authorities and consumers. It is also valuable for ensuring fair competition and as a mean of protecting consumers against fraud due to mislabelling. Conventional chemical methods are not able to determine the regional provenance of dairy products unambiguously. Therefore, alternative techniques such as spectroscopic techniques i.e., near infrared (NIR), mid infrared (MIR), front face fluorescence spectroscopy (FFFS), stable isotope and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-coupled with chemometric tools have many potential advantages as tools for the evaluation of the identity of such products. This review article discusses the potential of destructive and non-destructive techniques for the determination of the quality and the authenticity of dairy products. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.