The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) recently revealed that it now has a new label scanning tool to identify the entire DNA content of an item to detect food fraud.
The new analytical tool can proactively identify all the ingredients and their biological sources in a food, which will 'aid regulators in protecting consumers in relation to potential misleading labelling'.
The FSAI worked with a commercial laboratory (Identigen) over the past two years in adapting a relatively new DNA sequencing technology known as 'next generation sequencing', so that it could be used as a DNA scanning tool in food.
According to Dr Pat O’Mahony, Chief Specialist, Food Science and Technology, FSAI, it is now possible to scan the entire DNA content of a food without any prior knowledge or suspicion of what may or may not be present in that food.
“Even with the restriction of having to target the DNA of certain plant or animal species in previous studies, the FSAI has been able to detect food allergens and GMOs, and demonstrate the mislabelling of fish products," O'Mahony explained.
"Of course targeted DNA analysis was also the method used by the FSAI in discovering horsemeat in beef products, which ultimately brought the global awareness of food fraud to a new level.”
The FSAI said that its new DNA food scanning tool and has been applied successfully by the group to screen 45 plant-based foods and food supplements from Irish health food shops and supermarkets.
It looked for the presence of all plant species in the selected products and identified 14 food products of interest that may contain undeclared plant species.
O'Mahony explained that its two year project has proved that next generation sequencing has the capacity to screen a variety of plant-based foods for the presence of undeclared plant species.
"The plan is that in the future, the FSAI will apply the same technology for the screening of meat, poultry and fish products,” concluded Dr O’Mahony.
© 2019 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.