Research and analysis

Review of DNA-based methodologies for determining origin of foods

This report reviews the use of current and emerging DNA technologies to support compliance with EU legislation for the labeling of food

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Review of current and emerging DNA-based methodologies for the determination of the geographical point of origin of food stuffs

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The need

It has been a requirement to state the country of origin in food labeling since December 2014 according to EU regulation 1169/2011. Traditionally, paper traceability and tagging systems would have been sufficient proof of food origin. However, due to modern widespread transportation of food products across international borders, there are now more opportunities for the unscrupulous relabeling of products by the criminal fraternity.

As a consequence, there exists a growing requirement from the enforcement agencies to have rapid and reliable analytical methods that can verify the validity of source of origin labeling.

During the last decade both elemental and isotopic based measurements have provided the basis for the verification of the point of origin of food products. Molecular biology approaches focusing on DNA-based techniques are increasingly being evaluated for use in traceability of origin studies.

Government chemist report

The aim of this report is to provide a review on these DNA technologies for the determination of the geographical point of origin of food stuffs. The report provides example applications of country of origin labeling as well as describing the potential advantages and disadvantages of each of the DNA based technologies.

Published 28 October 2016