Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found a better way to identify unwanted animal products in ground beef.
Food science students led by professor Xiaonan Lu used a laser-equipped spectrometer and statistical analysis to determine with 99 per cent accuracy whether ground beef samples included other animal parts. They were able to say with 80 per cent accuracy which animal parts were used, and in what concentration.
Their new method can accomplish all of this in less than five minutes, which makes it a potentially transformative food inspection tool for government and industry.
“By using this innovative technique, the detection of food fraud can be simpler, faster and easier,” said the study’s lead author Yaxi Hu, a PhD candidate in UBC’s faculty of land and food systems.
Food fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of food products for economic gain. When producers hold an excess supply of meat or byproducts for which there is relatively little market demand, the potential exists for unscrupulous operators to try to pass those products off as something else. In the past five years, high-profile scandals in the U.K., Ireland, and Russia have seen lamb, chicken and even rat meat substituted for higher-quality meat products