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Leatherhead unveils new assay to detect horse DNA in meat products

FBR Staff Writer Published 02 May 2013

Leatherhead Food Research has developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay that helps to detect the presence of horse DNA as a contaminant of fresh meat or of uncooked food products such as beef burgers.

The test implements the recently released European Union Reference Laboratory for Animal Proteins (EURL-AP) recommended protocol to detect horse DNA using real-time PCR.

Using the EURL-AP's recommended sequence-specific primers and probes for horse mitochondrial DNA, an assay has been developed with a limit of detection of around 0.01%, according to the company.

Leatherhead CEO professor Paul Berryman said that the company can now test for horsemeat in three different ways including ELISA plates and dipsticks, and the EU-approved PCR DNA method.

"We have been particularly careful to check that the test is reliable and sensitive enough to give accurate and meaningful results. We are confident that our testing regimes are absolutely robust; and they are ideal for on-going surveillance programmes," Berryman added.

Leatherhead Molecular Sciences chief professor Brian Lake said that multiple portions of each test sample are pooled to ensure that a representative sample is analyzed.

"Positive and negative samples are included in each assay, together with a control to check for adequate extraction of DNA from the sample and for any inhibition of the PCR reaction by components of the sample. We can, of course, also give 1% threshold results if required," Lake added.

Established in 1919, Leatherhead Food Research, based near London, UK, is an independent organization that provides scientific, technical, market and regulatory research and consultancy solutions to the global food, beverage and related industries.