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New DNA Based Food Scanning Tool

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Targeted DNA Analysis on Food

The presence of undeclared ingredients in a food may be the result of inadvertent contamination or deliberate adulteration, the latter primarily for financial gain. Regardless of the reason, the presence of undeclared ingredients in foods can pose a safety risk (e.g. food allergens) and mislead consumers with respect to the product they are purchasing.

As part of routine official controls, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has used targeted DNA analysis with considerable success to challenge the authenticity of various foods (FSAI, 2002, 2009, 2011, 2013). However, where the identity of all ingredients in a food product is unknown, the need to target specific animal or plant species limits the usefulness of this analytical tool. In order to overcome this constraint, the FSAI has successfully employed next generation DNA sequencing (NGS) technology to screen 45 plant-based foods and food supplements on the Irish market for the presence of undeclared plant species. This non-targeted screening technique identified 14 food products of interest which were then subjected to more established DNA and/or protein analyses for verification purposes. Two products were found to contain undeclared plant species while a third will require further analysis before a definitive conclusion can be reached.

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Scientific Reports |