Almost all foodstuffs contain the genetic material of those animal and plant species that were used in their preparation. Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Genetics, Genetic Security Research and Consulting at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have developed a novel screening procedure that provides for highly sensitive, quantifiable analysis of animal, plant, and microbial substances present in foodstuffs.
In pilot studies, the researchers were able to use the new DNA method to detect the presence of a 1% content of horse meat in products and to determine the actual amount with a high level of precision. The Mainz researchers even found slight traces of the DNA of added mustard, lupin, and soy in a test sausage prepared for calibration purposes, something that could also be of interest with regard to allergy testing of foods.
Because of its potential, the method – dubbed 'All-Food-Seq' by its developers – has already attracted the attention of food inspection experts. "This method is very interesting in connection with efforts to promote the molecular traceability of food," said Hermann Broll of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin and Dr. René Köppel of the Zurich Cantonal Laboratory in Switzerland. The method developed by the Mainz scientists is thus to be validated in comparison with conventional detection techniques in the near future.
Petra Giegerich | idw
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