Cheaper solution to horsemeat testing being trialled

A research group claims to have developed a cheaper alternative to horsemeat DNA testing.

The Institute of Food Research (IFR), along with Norwich Research Park, has conducted new research into the different fatty acids in cattle and horses, which are present in raw meat, and can be tested for DNA.

The new testing equipment, called Pulsar, is being trialled as a screening tool and is cheaper and quicker than traditional screening methods, which test the genetic make-up of meat. In contrast, a couple of minutes shaking about a gram of meat in solvent, followed by a few minutes of data acquisition on Pulsar, was enough to tell horsemeat from beef. Software to carry out mathematical analysis of the data has also been developed at IFR, the company reported.

IFR said the technology was being trialled by a “leading meat processor”. Meanwhile, scientists at IFR and Norwich Retail Park are investigating how to make the technology applicable to pork and lamb.

“It’s a stroke of luck really that some of the most important meats turn out to have fat signatures that we can tell apart so easily with this method,” said Dr Kate Kemsley, head of the analytical sciences unit at IFR. “It has been very satisfying to see results from a real industrial setting sit right on top of those we generated in our two labs. We think this testing method should work well at key points in the supply chain – say, at meat wholesalers and processors.”


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