Pork scandal

“Horsegate” Scandal – PCR Helps You Meet Your Meat Identity Crisis

The scandal has led to the human community in the EU benefiting from the better labeling of foods!

It has been two years since the “Horsegate” scandal broke out when United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) reported findings on the presence of horse meat contamination in several products labeled as beef.

The technique used by the FSA that led to this revelation utilizes a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based assay that detects horse mitochondrial DNA. Though this technique is used in food safety testing for presence of potential pathogens, its adoption for use in food-quality and food-identity testing is not as widespread. Indeed, the initial results did not lead to an immediate recall of the horse-tainted beef products as this was not deemed hazardous to human health. However, the widespread media coverage of this “identity crisis” faced by the bovine and equine community lead them to be severely depressed, a condition so contagious it quickly spread to their human pals.

This forced the hand of the European Union (EU)’s Reference Laboratory for Animal Proteins in feeding stuffs to make available a standardized PCR-assay for evaluating horse-meat contamination and led to a wild horse chase into beef products across several EU countries to allay the fears of the bovine and equine community. The wider implications of the scandal has led to the human community in the EU benefiting from the better labeling of foods and the encouraging trend of increasing transparency in informing people on the food they consume.

 

By Mukundh N. Balasubramanian, PhD, Marie Curie Interfaces – BioSistemika LLC





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