UBC PhD candidate and team of researchers develop technology for testing unwanted animal products in meat samples

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A new technique from the University of British Columbia aims to make “mystery meat” a thing of the past.

PhD candidate Yaxi Hu and a team of researchers from UBC’s faculty of land and food systems have developed a new way of testing for unwanted animal products in meat samples by using light from a laser spectrometer.

Based on the way the laser’s light bounces off the meat, researchers can determine whether a sample of ground beef contains authentic beef meat; beef organs; pork organs – including pork liver, pork heart, and pork kidney; and other contents.

Hu told CTV Vancouver that the new technique is like finding “the fingerprints of meat samples.” Although it’s in its early stages, the method is faster than DNA testing.

The new technique comes not long after researchers at the University of Guelph found that one in five sausages contained animal products that weren’t listed on the label – including horse meat.

“It could be that that was economically motivated food fraud, or it could be a simple mix up,” University of Guelph associate professor Robert Hanner told CTV Vancouver.

Hu said food fraud is “a pretty large global issue” – one that she hopes to combat with the spectrometers.

“It’s like the consumer is being cheated,” Hu told CTV Vancouver.

As the technology continues to improve, Hu said her “ultimate goal” is to see spectrometers end up in packaging plants, in the hands of food inspectors, and, eventually, at local grocery stores.

Read the full story over at CTV News.

This story was summarized by Canadian Fraud News Inc.