The mislabeling of meat products sold for human consumption has serious implications from a safety and ethical perspective. With recent news stories of pork and horsemeat contamination in different parts of the world, a renewed need for specialized testing of the food supply has rapidly arisen.
For Muslim and Jewish communities, in particular, it is critical for consumers to know whether there is even the slightest contamination of foods that are considered permissible to eat ('halal' and 'kosher'), having been prepared in accordance with Islamic or Jewish beliefs, respectively.
To help serve the interests of these communities that together make up approximately 23% of the global population, scientists at the University of Münster, Germany, along with scientists from AB SCIEX, a global leader in analytical technology, have developed a new method for detecting pig and horse contamination of meat, including beef, chicken, lamb and others.
Major concerns about inaccurate, fraudulent or misleading labeling of meat-based products were raised during 2013 following numerous reports of horse and pig meat being detected, but not disclosed as contents, in beef-based products sold in supermarket chains across Europe. Moving forward, this new method from the University of Münster and AB SCIEX allows food testing laboratories to test products quickly and easily for trace amounts of pig and horse contamination.
"We are continuing our AB SCIEX tradition in partnering with experts in industry and academia to develop analytical tools that solve big problems," said Vincent Paez, Senior Director of Food & Environmental at AB SCIEX. "The halal testing method is a new tool that effectively addresses the safety, religious, ethical and dietary concerns of consumers who avoid products with pig and horse meat."
The new method, which was recently published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, uses liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) to detect a number of biomarker peptides that are specific to pig and/or horse.
As a leader in next-generation food testing technologies, AB SCIEX has previously developed similar methods for protein screening in food, including new techniques for detecting allergens such as eggs, milk, sesame seeds, nuts, and mustard simultaneously in food samples. Scientists at AB SCIEX are continuing to look into other similar areas of ethical concern, including detection of gelatin that has come from species such as beef and pork.