Losing Meat Identity and DNA Based Detection

Different meat types can be easily distinguished from each other when raw. One of the most prominent and easily identifiable features is color. Chicken is white, pork is pale red (pinkish) and beef is dark red.

The next two prominent characteristics come into play when the meat are cooked, the texture and flavor. Chicken is the softest, followed by pork, and the beef being the toughest. Each has its own unique flavor after application of simple processing methods, frying, sauteing, broiling and boiling. Anyone can identify it easily by using the sense of taste.

Then, the combinations of following techniques make the difference in between meat blur, to a point in which identification and differentiation is near to impossible.

1) Comminuting. Fine grinding.
2) Drying.  Driving away moisture that also takes away essential flavors and nutrients.
3) Addition of colors. Examples are tocino and corned beef.
4) High temperature treatment. Pressure canning, boiling.
5) Shredding. Cutting to chunks and separating the strands. Common example is corned beef.
6) Powdering. The combination of items 1 and 2. Instant cooking mixes.
7) Addition of too many flavors, either natural or artificial. As of date, foods with less than five items as ingredients are rare finds.
8) Mixing with other meat types.  Another meat types can be hidden if mixed with other types or larger amounts, carabeef and horse meat are popular beef replacement.

Example products:

1) Instant meat flavors in cubes or powder.
2) Hotdogs, sausages and reformed hams
3) meat patties
4) kikiam, meat balls and veggie balls
5) shredded meat such as corned beef

When a certain meat looses its identity or intentionally processed to deceived customers, there is still a way to detect fake and adulterated products and penalize the culprits. It is the DNA testing. Here are some infos.

DNA testing has a superior detection limit and has almost 100% specificity. It involves PCR or polymerase chain reaction. Sections of DNA samples or primers  are bound to specific DNA and are copied million of times until sufficient amount is gathered for comparison with the known standard. (www.foodprocessing.com.au)

DNA is a double helix  structure. It is much like a zipper that could be easily separated but more difficult to destroy. Denaturation temperature is over 200 ° F (near boiling point). Actual destruction start when these reach the stomach where acids and enzymes break the bonds, thus converting DNA (proteins) to its components amino acids. (askville.amazon.com)

Eurofins is offering meat species testing, the DNA testing of meat products entering the UK. The main purpose of testing is detection of products with undeclared meat ingredients and help suppressed the ongoing meat adulteration scandal where beef products were found to have undeclared horse meat. Real-Time PCR and DNA Sequencing are done on beef, pork, goat, sheep, horse, turkey and chicken meat. (eurofins.co.uk)

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