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

February 28, 2013
Do you 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. Credit: Maria E D'Amato, Evguenia Alechine, Kevin W Cloete, Sean Davison and Daniel Corach

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 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 biltong was actually springbok or ostrich. The rest was horse, impala, hartebeest, , 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."

Explore further: The first DNA barcodes of commonly traded bushmeat are published

More information: 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)

Related Stories

Barcoding endangered sea turtles

September 14, 2009

Conservation geneticists who study sea turtles have a new tool to help track this highly migratory and endangered group of marine animals: DNA barcodes. DNA barcodes are short genetic sequences that efficiently distinguish ...

Recommended for you

French teen finds 560,000 year-old tooth (Update)

July 28, 2015

A 16-year-old French volunteer archaeologist has found an adult tooth dating back around 560,000 years in southwestern France, in what researchers hailed as a "major discovery" Tuesday.

Oldest known Koran text fragments discovered

July 23, 2015

Two pages of text written on parchment that are believed to be sections of the Koran (Chapters 18 and 20) have been discovered by a PhD student in a British university library and are believed to be the oldest ever found. ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ScooterG
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2013
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.

Is anyone surprised by this?
lee_pool
not rated yet Mar 01, 2013
Hi

Could you please provide a link to the article from which this 'report' comes? The `Provided by BioMed Central` does not lead to the article...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.