DNA testing may become part of all food quality control

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Applied Systems software is used to check Hovis bread
Applied Systems software is used to check Hovis bread
Retailers will demand more stringent quality control and traceability procedures  ̶  including regular DNA testing  ̶  from their suppliers within the next few years as a result of the recent horsemeat scandal, according to the boss of one traceability software provider.

JJ Kotze, md of data management software supplier Applied Principles, said that system providers were looking at ways of incorporating DNA testing into electronic traceability systems. The aim would be to allow manufacturers to demonstrate the highest levels of quality control and due diligence to their retail customers.

When these systems are available retailers would demand that their suppliers use them, he added.

“In a few years’ time manufacturers will be able to buy a machine for a couple of thousand pounds that will be able to carry out DNA testing,”​ claimed Kotze. “Retailers will demand this​ [is used by manufacturers] as soon as it is available.”

Better supply chain controls

Kotze added that manufacturers had realised they needed better supply chain controls and were looking at new ways to protect their businesses from potential fraud.

“Lots of people are looking for better protection,”​ said Kotze. “They’ve realised they need better internal control to provide evidence that they have done their best.”

 Kotze suggested that larger manufacturers would implement their own DNA testing facilities.

“All​ [retailers] apart from Sainsbury have had problems with horsemeat. If horsemeat is found again in 12 months’ time this would be very damaging to a brand. So they will do everything they can to prevent this happening,”​ added Kotze.

The Food Manufacture Group is staging a free, one-hour webinar on the lessons to be learned from the horsemeat crisis. Email zvpunry.fgbarf@jeoz.pbz​ for more details.

Smarter tools

Food safety consultant Dr Jo Head said that the use of smarter tools was now imperative and that uptake of new electronic traceability systems – believed to provide better security  ̶  had increased as people now recognised their benefits.

Head has long been in favour of such systems​ over paper-based approaches, but said the industry was now coming around to using them.

Demand for Applied Principles’ Principle Suite data management software from manufacturers had increased since the horsemeat scandal broke, said Kotze.

However, Dr Peter Wareing, principal food safety advisor at Leatherhead Food Research, said that traceability systems  ̶  regardless of how advanced they were  ̶  cannot prevent people from committing fraud.

“In the cases that were 100% horse it is obvious that there was fraudulent activity,”​ said Wareing. “If someone wants to act in a fraudulent way, traceability systems cannot mitigate against this. Traceability systems are good and robust in knowing where things have come from, but not where the fraudulent activity took place.”

The Food Manufacture Group is staging a free, one-hour webinar, to take place at 11am on Thursday May 16.

To reserve your place at the webinar – Horsemeat: learning the lessons of an avoidable crisis – email Zvpunry.fgbarf@jeoez.pbz​.

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Young Engineer of the Year build his owns genetic testing machine.

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A teenager from Brighouse has been named the UK's Young Engineer of the Year.

Fred Turner has been presented with the award after building his own genetic testing machine.


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