Monday 25 March 2019

Safety experts develop DNA test to stop shoppers being tricked through fraudulent food packaging


(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Dr Pat O’Mahony, chief scientist at the FSAI
Conor McCrave

Conor McCrave

The DNA of food products will be tested to identify 'food fraud' under an innovative new screening system.

Over the last two years the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has worked with lab technicians at Identigen to develop a tool which can compare the information declared on food labels against the food inside the packaging.

It will act as a regulatory aid to prevent consumers from being tricked into purchasing products and can trace allergens within the foods.

Chief specialist of food science and technology at the FSAI, Dr Pat O'Mahony, said the same technique has been used previously to confirm the presence of horse meat in beef products.

"Our two-year project has proved that next generation DNA sequencing has the capacity to screen a variety of plant-based foods for the presence of undeclared plant species," Dr O'Mahony said.

"It is important to understand that any results of the initial scan will always need to be corroborated by more established analytical techniques.

"Being able to scan the entire DNA content of a food means that it will be difficult to substitute or hide an ingredient of biological origin without it being detected.

"Of course, targeted DNA analysis was also the method used by the FSAI in discovering horse meat in beef products, which ultimately brought the global awareness of food fraud to a new level."

Irish Independent

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