Detecting horse and donkey meat in salami
Reading Scientific Services
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The Food Standards Agency is to survey the possible use of horse and donkey meat in products such as salami, pastrami, and chorizo
News that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to survey thepossible use of horse and donkey meat in products such as salami,pastrami, and chorizo has once again raised concerns aboutauthenticity and mislabelling in the meat industry.
The FSAannouncement came just days after a BBC Panorama programmehighlighted the practice of injecting chicken breasts with water,salts, and proteins derived from other sources.
"The meatproducts business can expect to be under close scrutiny,especially if the FSA survey does reveal mislabelling," saysSimon Flanagan of Reading Scientific Services (RSSL).
An earliersmall-scale study by the FSA revealed that three of twenty-foursalami samples did contain undeclared horse meat."Manufacturers concerned about the authenticity and safetyof their supplies don't need to panic," adds Simon."There is good science available to support them.
"Forexample, we can use Elisa techniques to distinguish betweendifferent meat proteins, and PCR methods to differentiate betweenDNA from different species." This means there are reliablemethods available that can detect which meats have been mixedtogether to produce sausages, mince and salamis.
These methodscan distinguish between approximately 30 different meat species,and 50 different fish species, and new methods are being addedall the time.
"Similarly, there are other issues concerningthe authenticity and labelling of meat products, which science isnow able to address.
For example, we can use a Ukas accreditedmethod to detect the amino acid hydroxyproline, which is found incollagen.
This analysis is important for keeping in line with thenew Meat Labelling Regulations, which dictate how muscle meat hasto be distinguished from other parts of the animal carcass.Routine analysis can also address safety concerns, as in the caseof the identification of Specified Risk Material.
Here an Elisamethod is used to detect whether the meat product contains aprotein that is only found in high concentrations in the centralnervous system tissue of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs."
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