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How to detect food fraud using molecular biology?

How to detect food fraud using molecular biology?

What is food fraud?

Food fraud is defined as a “deliberate and intentional substitution, addition and tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging; or a false or misleading statement made about a product for economic gain.”

What is the issue?

According to the European Commission Directive 2002/86/EC, food ingredients must be declared. In the case of meat and meat products, animal species have to be labelled with precise information about the species and its percentage in the product. Additionally, according to the EU Directive 273/2008 and 1379/2013, the addition of cow’s milk in high-quality non-cow’s milk is regulated at 0.5% and the fish species labelling is mandatory with the trade name, respectively.
Moreover, the species authenticity is also highly relevant to the consumer for diverse reasons such as economic, health, cultural and religious. Fraudulent substitution of cheaper meats/fishes in place of more expensive ones, the inclusion of meat in non-meat (vegetarian) products, the interest of knowing the animal speciation in meat products (halal and kosher) and the presence of allergens in food products are clear examples for the importance of this issue.

Food fraud testing methods

Since the horse meat scandal in 2013, in which meat containing horse DNA was sold as beef, the awareness of food fraud and food adulteration increased and with that, the need to develop appropriate analytical methods to verify that the ingredients included.
In this sense, the DNA-based tools proved to be invaluable in this respect. Assays targeting specific animal DNA markers, by Real Time [polymerase chain reaction (PCR)] are well established today as sensitive, specific, high-throughput and relatively low cost technique and due to that offered as accredited services by many contract laboratories.

At BIOPREMIER we developed kits to be used with the technology Real-Time PCR: the SUPREME Real Time Detections Kits for the detection of Meat, Dairy and Fish for fraud control in products and the DNA Standard SUPREME Kits to quantify DNA (example: comparative quantification analysis of DNA in food and feedstuff products to estimate the percentage of the fraudulent products).

Meat adulteration

The addition or substituting for cheaper products and for animal identification due to religious demands (halal and kosher) or vegan style-life. Identification and/or quantification of the following species animals:

  • Cow
  • Swine
  • Horse
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Goat
  • Sheep

Milk adulteration

The addition or substituting for cheaper products in dairy products, milk and cheese, such cow’s milk in high-quality sheep or goat’s milk.
Identification and/or quantification of the following species animals:

  • Cow
  • Goat
  • Sheep

Fish adulteration

The addition or substituting for cheaper products, for economic reasons or as non-Good Practices.
Identification and/or quantification of the following species animals:

  • Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua
  • Pacific cod, Gadus macrocephalus
  • Alaska pollock, Gadus chalcogrammus