Is Your Food a Fraud? A Tool for Testing Food with the Naked Eye

/Is Your Food a Fraud? A Tool for Testing Food with the Naked Eye

Is Your Food a Fraud? A Tool for Testing Food with the Naked Eye

To what extent do we trust labels? Does food really contain what is claimed? These are questions which can be resolved by simply testing the DNA present in food, a process currently performed using a labour-intensive, barcoding method. A ‘barcode’ is a short sequence of DNA unique to a specific species. The barcode is used in complex and time-consuming procedure to ensure the packaging matches the food-type inside.

A simplified version of food authentication has now been developed by Italian scientists. Known as NanoTracer, the method combines DNA Barcoding, Nanotechnology and PCR to create a Universal Colorimetric Test. This new test also uses fewer and cheaper reagents, requires less instrumentation, and features a simple colour change as its output.


The principle behind this new test is as follows:

The barcode is broken down into shorter sub-regions enabling DNA within the food to be identified even if it is no longer intact, a common feature of food products. DNA within the food is extracted before being amplified by PCR using barcode primers and DNA-functionalized gold nano-particles. If the DNA present in the food is a match to the barcode primers, the DNA segment is amplified causing the gold nano-particles to aggregate and the solution to turn from red to violet.

This simplified food authentication procedure will be greatly beneficial and provide a cheaper, faster, more sensitive method to that which is currently used.

The full article can be accessed at the Wiley Online Library: 

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