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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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No More Mystery Meat
12 March 2004 (All day)
Worried about what the cow in your hamburger was eating? Or want to see if that tiny $100 can of goose pâté actually holds a cheap substitute? A new gene chip made especially for food may be just what you've been looking for.
Last month a French company, bioMérieux, launched a new gene expression test that can identify those mystery meats. Called FoodExpert-ID, it contains 88,000 handpicked probes from 33 kinds of vertebrates including ostrich, Mozambican eel, and--more disturbingly--cat. Human DNA is on there too, but mainly as a "control," according to bioMérieux.
The chip is made by Affymetrix, whose GeneChip technology is already used in genomics labs the world over. It is meant to be used by manufacturers as sort of a seal of quality. Once evaluated, a product will receive an "identity card" listing all the species detected. "Unknown vertebrates" will also get picked up. Besides revealing cheap substitutes, such as the use of pork liver in the pâté de foie gras, it can be used to reassure those with strict food preferences and to test animal feed for vertebrate byproducts--a growing concern because of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
"Food purity is an important global issue," says Michael Hansen, a researcher at Consumers Union, which is pushing for a U.S. ban on mammalian or poultry parts in ruminant feed. "I expect many of these sorts of tests will start coming out."