DNA bar coding used to detect mislabeled meat.

  • “DNA bar coding” made headlines earlier this year when the New York Attorney General’s office launched a probe into major retailers and alleged that herbal supplements sold in their stores did not contain the ingredients represented on the product labels.  Many discussed and debated the utility of DNA bar coding as a means of detecting the authenticity of food ingredients.
  • In two recently published studies, researchers have demonstrated the utility of DNA bar coding in identifying potentially mislabeled meat in the marketplace.  Based on tests of consumer commercial products, researchers found that 10 out of 54 game meat products were mislabeled and 10 out of 48 ground meat products were mislabeled.  Horse meat was detected in two of the ground meat products.  Mislabeling could be attributed either to intentional mixing of cheaper meats into the finished product (i.e., “food fraud“) or unintentional cross-contamination during processing.
  • Particularly in light of the increasing prevalence of food fraud and the food industry’s preparation for compliance with the requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), we suspect this will not be the last we hear of DNA bar coding and its potential utility in the food industry.