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A meat speciation survey of selected meat products at retail level

Project Reference: 05-2010B

Status: Completed

Commencement Date: December, 2010

Project Duration: 6 months


Regulatory food authorities strive to promote honest and informative labelling to help consumers make informed choices. This aspiration must be substantiated by activities to check whether food is mis-described. EU legislation requires meat to be labelled with the animal species from which it comes, and to quantify the meat ingredients. Mechanically recovered meat falls outside this definition and cannot count towards the meat content. Similarly, other parts of the carcass such as heart, liver, kidney, etc., must also be labelled separately, and the generic term "offal" is not permitted. Therefore, in order to check compliance with these labelling requirements, analytical DNA-based techniques are available to detect and quantify meat species and other meat ingredients in meat products. A number of species-specific methods have been developed for the detection of beef, lamb, pork, chicken and turkey.

The purpose of this project was to enhance the capacity of the Public Analyst system on the island of Ireland by facilitating the implementation of methods that could then be used to determine the authenticity of processed meat products. Method development concentrated on chicken burgers and sausages (cheaper brands). The project was part of an ongoing collaboration between safefood and the Public Analyst Laboratories and in this instance involved the Cork Public Analyst Laboratory which has been designated the National Reference Laboratory for meat speciation by the Dept. of Health & Children. In conjunction with the project, Cork PAL personnel availed of the Training and Mobility Programme travel grant scheme of the safefood Knowledge Networks to attend the JRC Joint Research Centre, Molecular Biology and Genomics Unit in Warsaw.

Principal Contractor(s):

Dr Fred Davison, Cork Public Analyst Laboratory


Single supplier



Laboratory capacity building

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