Problems with identifying meat? The answer is to check the barcode

February 28, 2013

Want to know what you are eating? DNA barcodes can be used to identify even very closely related species, finds an article published in BioMed Central's open access journal Investigative Genetics. Results from the study show that the labelling of game meat in South Africa is very poor with different species being substituted almost 80% of the time.

In South Africa game meat biltong (air dried strips) is big business with over 10,000 wildlife farms and is supplemented by private hunting. This meat is considered to be 'healthier' than beef because it is lower in fat and cholesterol and perceived to be lower in additives.

Using mitochondrial COI DNA barcoding and cytb sequencing, researchers analysed samples of game meat from supermarkets, wholesalers and other outlets and compared them to known samples and library sequences. From 146 samples over 100 were mislabelled.

All the beef samples were correct, but for the most badly labelled case 92% of kudu was a different species. Only 24% of springbok and ostrich biltong was actually springbok or ostrich. The rest was horse, impala, hartebeest, wildebeest, waterbok, eland, gemsbok, duiker, giraffe, kangaroo, lamb, pork or beef. Worryingly one sample labelled zebra was actually mountain zebra, a 'red listed' species threatened with extinction.

Maria Eugenia D'Amato from the University of the Western Cape commented, "The delivery of unidentifiable animal carcasses to market and the general lack of regulations increases the chances of species mislabelling and fraud. This has implications for species safety but also has cultural and religious implications. This technique is also able to provide new information about the identity of animals and meant that we found several animals whose DNA had been misidentified in the scientific libraries."
-end-
Media contact

Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3192 2370
Mob: +44 (0) 778 698 1967
Email: hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com

Notes

1. Where is the game? Wild meat products authentication in South Africa: a case study. Maria E D'Amato, Evguenia Alechine, Kevin W Cloete, Sean Davison and Daniel Corach Investigative Genetics (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request on the day of publication.

2. Investigative Genetics is a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal, which publishes articles on the development and application of molecular genetics in a wide range of science disciplines with societal relevance. These include forensic issues and legal medicine, evolutionary, anthropological and historical studies, as well as epidemiology and biosafety.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. @BioMedCentral

BioMed Central

Related DNA Articles from Brightsurf:

A new twist on DNA origami
A team* of scientists from ASU and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) led by Hao Yan, ASU's Milton Glick Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences, and director of the ASU Biodesign Institute's Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, has just announced the creation of a new type of meta-DNA structures that will open up the fields of optoelectronics (including information storage and encryption) as well as synthetic biology.

Solving a DNA mystery
''A watched pot never boils,'' as the saying goes, but that was not the case for UC Santa Barbara researchers watching a ''pot'' of liquids formed from DNA.

Junk DNA might be really, really useful for biocomputing
When you don't understand how things work, it's not unusual to think of them as just plain old junk.

Designing DNA from scratch: Engineering the functions of micrometer-sized DNA droplets
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have constructed ''DNA droplets'' comprising designed DNA nanostructures.

Does DNA in the water tell us how many fish are there?
Researchers have developed a new non-invasive method to count individual fish by measuring the concentration of environmental DNA in the water, which could be applied for quantitative monitoring of aquatic ecosystems.

Zigzag DNA
How the cell organizes DNA into tightly packed chromosomes. Nature publication by Delft University of Technology and EMBL Heidelberg.

Scientists now know what DNA's chaperone looks like
Researchers have discovered the structure of the FACT protein -- a mysterious protein central to the functioning of DNA.

DNA is like everything else: it's not what you have, but how you use it
A new paradigm for reading out genetic information in DNA is described by Dr.

A new spin on DNA
For decades, researchers have chased ways to study biological machines.

From face to DNA: New method aims to improve match between DNA sample and face database
Predicting what someone's face looks like based on a DNA sample remains a hard nut to crack for science.

Read More: DNA News and DNA Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.