DNA tests grant ingredient authenticity

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dna Molecular biology

New DNA testing methods ensure that manufacturers can identify raw
ingredients correctly, saving them both time and money, the
developer claims.

UK research group Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA) has developed DNA extraction and detection methods, in conjunction with an existing DNA amplification technique, for assessing the authenticity of ingredients and products such as fish, meat, gum additives, olive oil and nuts. Strict EU and UK regulations mean that manufacturers must know what is in their products and label them correctly, as contamination with other ingredients can lead to expensive recalls, fines and even law suits. "DNA testing helps manufacturers to ensure the integrity of a product",​ Steve Garrett, a CCFRA biochemist, told FoodProductionDaily.com. "For example,a non-genetically modified soya ingredient must be free from GM soya or the product must carry a label saying the GM soya is present." "Similarly,certain fish species can be in short supply and substitutions can occur. Lots of UK fish products are prepared from imported fish blocks containing fillets or pieces, and manufactures need to ensure correct fish ingredients are being used,"​ he added. CCFRA has developed a "hands-free" DNA testing method. For example, with molecular fish identification, a sample tissue is put into a cartridge, which fits into a machine that carries out DNA extraction in 30 minutes. The profile of this DNA is then compared to a database containing hundreds of other profiles, to confirm exactly what the food ingredient of product is. DNA testing is particularly useful for identifying basmati rice variety, Garrett explained, as under European law a basmati product must not be more than 7 per cent non-basmati rice, and variety testing on rice is very difficult to do without using DNA techniques. The technology was financed in part by the Food Standards Agency, and has been taken up by local authority enforcement authorities. The research group hopes that the DNA approaches will also be taken up by food companies. Other UK companies that this year have developed DNA testing techniques include the Reading Scientific Services (RSSL), which has devised a method of identifying pine nuts and chestnuts in food, with the aim of helping to protect consumers with nut allergies. The University of Nottingham is also exploring DNA technology, in collaboration with a Malaysian company, Applied Agricultural Resources (AAR), to detect illegitimate crosses, tissue culture mix-ups and other identity-related issues in palm oil. CCFRA is a UK organisation that carries out research and development for the food and drinks industry. It aims to provide industry with technical and advisory services in the areas of product safety and quality, process efficiency and product and process innovation.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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