A new test has been developed by Leatherhead Food Research that allows for the detection of unknown and unsuspected cases of adulteration or mislabelling of meat products. This means that a single test can now be used to immediately detect the presence of any meat adulterant or contaminant that could be present.
Previous methods meant that a series of tests had to be run where the possible causes of adulteration must be named in advance and individually tested for.
Existing methods using real-time Polymerised Chain Reaction (PCR) techniques can result in “false positives” caused by the presence of psuedogenes - these are created when DNA sequences are multiplied during the testing process. Frustrated with these inadequacies, Leatherhead developed the new technique to resolve such problems.
Using samples of beef, spiked with horse, pork, chicken, turkey and duck, Leatherhead’s test shows a detection limit of 1% for each DNA target. The test can be used for cooked and raw meats and for processed meat-based products.
“We believe that the test will allow for faster and more accurate analysis of the species of meat used in prepared foods and can support the drive to build greater consumer trust”, says creator of the method, Dr Angus Knight, Research & Development Manager.
The Leatherhead Food Safety team were so excited by their new method that they decided to put it into practice by testing the game pâté served at their recent Christmas party - results to follow!