Identification of animal product type
Under the current law, food products should be labeled in a way that will not mislead the consumer. This includes information specifying the characteristics of a foodstuff, including name, type, characteristics, ingredients, quantity, durability, source or place of origin, methods of manufacturing or production, etc. The name of the meat product should be supplemented by the type of meat from which the product was produced, which would enable the consumer to identify the food and to distinguish it from other products. The declaration of the composition of the product shall indicate all the ingredients used.
In order to identify meat species, molecular biology tools – polymerase chain reaction (PCR)- are used. Identification is based on the detection of a specific DNA sequence for the certain meat species. The modern Real-Time PCR method is a very sensitive analytical tool and allows for a quantitative estimate of adulteration with undesirable meat species on the level of <0.1%.
Food allergens have become the subject of quality control analysis. Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers lists 14 substances or products causing allergies or intolerances to be declared on the label, i.e.: cow’s milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, cereals containing gluten (wheat, oats, barley, rye), wood nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, macadamia, pistachio, brazil, almonds), groundnuts, soybeans, celery, sesame, mustard and derivative products, lupins, molluscs and sulphites at a concentration of at least 10 mg/kg.
It is estimated that food allergies affect more than 2% of the adult population and about 4-8% of children. The intake of allergens in foods by a sensitized person can trigger the reaction of the skin or digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems – urticaria, angioedema (larynx, lips, tongue and face), atopic dermatitis (eczema), asthma, rhinitis, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, hypotension and life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
To ensure the safety of foodstuffs, rapid, sensitive and reliable methods of detecting and quantifying allergens in foodstuffs are required that could be routinely used by the production facility or food safety and quality control institutions. Analytical methods used to detect allergens must be effective for raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products, but also for environmental and wash-water swabs. For this purpose, a method based on immunoenzymatic detection of proteins and PCR is used – a polymerase chain reaction of the DNA-encoding allergen.
The most commonly modified crops include soybeans, maize, rape, rice, and cotton. Primary features given to transgenic plants are resistance to herbicides or insects. J.S. Hamilton Poland S.A performs food and feed analyzes for the detection of genetic modifications in accordance with European law. Commission Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 requires the labeling of all food products and feed containing, consisting of and produced from GMOs. The GMO labeling threshold was set at 0.9% (EC Regulation 49/2000). The GMO content below this threshold is considered accidental or technically unavoidable and does not need to be indicated.
Real-Time PCR is used to detect and quantify GMOs and consists of the following stages:
- Screening GMO (qualitative method – detection of DNA fragments used for gene modification)
- double screening (detection of 35S promoter and NOS terminator),
- triple screening (35S promoter detection, NOS terminator and 34S FMV promoters),
- Identification of specific GMOs (qualitative method – detection of varieties of GMO soybeans, maize GMO, rape GMO and others),
- Quantitative determination of specific GMO.
VIRUSES IN FOOD
It is estimated that among all diseases caused by food pathogens, about 67% are caused by viruses. Their infectious doses are very low (10 – 100 viral particles). The contamination of food products with intestinal viruses can occur at every stage of their production: cultivation, harvesting, transport, purchase, packaging, preparation, delivery to the consumer. Most of the infections are caused by contact with sick people who are involved in the distribution or preparation of food. Strategies proposed for the control of viruses in food include compliance with good hygiene, agricultural and industrial practice, HACCP procedures, educational initiatives and vaccination (hepatitis A and Norwalk virus). The emphasis should be laid on the use of new molecular biology techniques and methodological improvements to detecting viruses in food. Due to the increasing number of cases of viral infections caused by the consumption of frozen fruits, J.S.HAMILTON POLAND SA laboratory has developed research methods that enable detecting viruses Norovirus and Hepatitis A in frozen foods.