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German researchers use new DNA method to detect ingredients in foods

FBR Staff Writer Published 28 March 2013

Researchers at Mainz University have developed a screening method that helps in accurately determining the amount of animal, plant, and microbial substances in foods.

As part of the development, the researchers have used advanced techniques of DNA sequencing, which are currently used in human genetics to unravel the genetic information of thousands of patients.

During the pilot studies, the researchers have discovered the presence of a 1% content of horse meat in products by using the new DNA method.

In addition, they have also discovered slight traces of the DNA of added mustard, lupin, and soy in a test sausage prepared for calibration purposes.

Commenting on the development, Mainz University molecular geneticist Professor Thomas Hankeln said that by using a simple digital method of counting short snippets of DNA, the relative incidence of individual species-related material can be determined more precisely.

German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment spokesperson Hermann Broll and Zurich Cantonal Laboratory spokesperson René Köppel said that this method is very interesting in connection with efforts to promote the molecular traceability of food.