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Horse meat: demand for lower level testing

By Rachel Arthur+

06-Feb-2014
Last updated on 06-Feb-2014 at 11:11 GMT

horse meat DNA test

Higher sensitivity meat testing is demanded by the industry in the wake of the horse meat scandal, says Campden BRI, which provides technical, legislative and scientific support to the food and drinks industry.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends tests for species cross-contamination at levels less than 1.0% (on a weight for weight basis).

Standard immunoassay tests, which detect certain proteins, hormones and antibodies, do not always reach this benchmark. More companies are calling on DNA tests to give information on lower levels of cross contamination.

UKAS accreditation

Campden BRI has extended its United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accreditation for DNA-based meat species authenticity testing.

Originally developed by Campden BRI for the FSA over 10 years ago, the test uses real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to detect meat species.

Immunoassay tests are routinely used by the industry. They detect levels at 1% and 1.3%. DNA testing is a more sensitive technology, and there is a need in the wake of the horse meat scandal,” said Steve Garrett, authenticity team leader, Campden BRI.

Other meat products

Garrett said demand for Campden BRI’s meat testing service increased dramatically during the horse meat scandal. The call for more sensitive tests is now ingrained in industry expectations, he said.

The discovery of horse meat in processed beef products last year led to recalls and a spotlight on the supply chain. The industry needs to be ready to react to other issues in the supply chain, Garrett said.

Last year, a study claimed donkey, goat and water buffalo was found unlabelled in meat products in South Africa.

Our accredited service currently covers beef, chicken, lamb, pork and turkey, but more importantly the UKAS accreditation is flexible, enabling us to add further animal species in future and react to the needs of the food industry,” said Garrett.

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