Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Food & Beverage Analysis
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Forensic Scientists Recover Fingerprints from Food

Published: Monday, April 15, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, April 15, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Forensic scientists at the University of Abertay Dundee have recovered latent fingerprints from foods – publishing the UK’s first academic paper on this subject.

Only two other studies have ever reported successfully recovering fingerprints from foods, but the research for these took place in India and Slovenia using chemical substances that are not routinely used here in Britain.

Foods are notoriously difficult surfaces to recover prints from, so are often overlooked as items of evidence.

However, by modifying an existing technique that was initially designed to recover fingerprints from the sticky side of adhesive tape, the team at Abertay have shown that this need no longer be the case.

The publication of their research – in the forensic science journal “Science & Justice” – means that others will now be able to replicate their results.

Dennis Gentles, a former crime scene examiner and forensic scientist who has worked at Abertay University for the past ten years, explains why this is so significant:

“Although there are proven techniques to recover fingerprints from many different surfaces these days, there are some surfaces that remain elusive, such as feathers, human skin, and animal skin.

“Foods such as fruits and vegetables used to be in that category, because their surfaces vary so much – not just in their colour and texture, but in their porosity as well. These factors made recovering fingerprints problematic because some techniques, for example, work on porous surfaces while others only work on non-porous surfaces.

“Using the right technique is of the utmost importance because if you use the wrong one, it can damage the print and destroy what could have been a vital piece of evidence.

“The fact that we’ve managed to successfully recover prints from such difficult surfaces as foods is another step forward in the fight against crime. It may not seem like much, but a piece of fruit might just be the only surface that has been handled in a crime scene so developing a trusted and tested technique to recover fingerprints from such surfaces is something to be valued by crime scene examiners.”

Because of the differences between the substances available in the UK and those used in the other studies, the team at Abertay began by testing a selection of the techniques currently recommended by the Home Office for recovering fingerprints.

Disappointingly, their results showed that few of these techniques – when applied to foods including apples, tomatoes, onions and potatoes – produced a print of high enough quality for it to be presented as evidence in court.

However, when they modified a substance known as Powder Suspension (PS) – a thick, tar-like substance – they found it produced a clear, high-quality mark on the smooth-surfaced food items such as the onions, apples and tomatoes.

Dennis Gentles continues:

“There are about 15 techniques that are currently recommended by the Home Office for recovering prints – from a variety of surfaces – and research teams are constantly refining them and developing new ones so that the police can get as much evidence of as high a quality as possible to help with an investigation.

“Although Powder Suspension was initially developed to recover prints from the sticky side of adhesive tape, it’s since been found to work on other surfaces, so we wondered whether it would work on foods, as this was something it hadn’t been tested on before.

“The smooth surface of an apple is very different from that of sticky tape though, so such a thick substance wasn’t going to produce the same results on such a different surface. So we tried altering the formulation a bit, making it more dilute than that suggested by the Home Office, and found that it out-performed all the other methods we tested.

“Although there’s still a considerable amount of research to do before we can recommend techniques for all types of foods, we’ve shown for the first time that it really is possible to recover fingerprints from them – something that was previously thought to be unachievable. This means the police will now be able to gather even more evidence to present in court, adding more weight to their investigations.”

Forensic scientists at Abertay University have made a number of forensics breakthroughs in recent years, notably recovering latent (or invisible) fingerprints from fabrics for the very first time in 2011.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Decrease in Foodborne Outbreaks in Denmark
Almost every other registered salmonella infection in Denmark in 2014 was brought back by Danes travelling overseas.
How Safe Is Your Ground Beef?
If you don’t know how the ground beef you eat was raised, you may be putting yourself at higher risk of illness from dangerous bacteria. You okay with that?
Sweeteners Detected in Human Breast Milk
New data show that multiple types of NNS can be passed to nursing infants.
Food Science Team Finds Key to Tasty, Salt-Reduced Bread
Three food science researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered how to reduce salt in bread by half without compromising its taste or texture.
Yorkshire Scientists Could Hold Key to Preventing Future Horsemeat Scandals
Incidents like the horse meat scandal, which caused extensive damage to the UK’s farming and retail industry, could be consigned to the past thanks to revolutionary technology developed in the UK.
Detecting Hidden Ingredients
Researchers from China have used mass spectrometry to reveal the use of undeclared substances in dietary supplements.
Study Questions Presence in Blood of Heart-Healthy Molecules from Fish Oil Supplements
A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania questions the relevance of fish oil-derived SPMs and their purported anti-inflammatory effects in humans.
How To Keep Your Rice Arsenic-Free
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have made a breakthrough in discovering how to lower worrying levels of arsenic in rice that is eaten all over the world.
Pesticide Found in 70 Percent of Massachusetts’ Honey Samples
New Harvard University study says that the pesticide commonly found in honey samples is implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder.
Printed "Smart Cap" Detects Spoiled Food
It might not be long before consumers can just hit “print” to create an electronic circuit or wireless sensor in the comfort of their homes.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!