dna (10)

Earlier this year, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned the UK National Reference Laboratory for GMOs based at LGC (Teddington), to deliver a desk-based review of the current state-of-the-art associated with methods for the potential detection of 12227147085?profile=RESIZE_710x (PBOs) in the food and feed supply chains.

Precision Bred Organisms represent organisms which possess genetic variability resulting from the application of modern biotechnology, which could also have arisen through traditional processes. In March 2023 the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act was passed in the UK, which brought forward primary legislation to amend the regulatory definition of a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), to exclude from it those organisms that have genetic changes that could also have arisen through traditional processes.

The report, written by Malcolm Burns and Gavin Nixon, captures use of sector specific terminology and related international developments. A focus is given on the current scope and challenges for the analytical detection of specific DNA sequences alongside supportive traceability tools inclusive of reference materials and databases. The report provides a series of recommendations towards helping develop a framework for the traceability of PBOs as well as some of the future analytical challenges this presents.

The report will be of interest to scientists and analysts involved in developing molecular biology assays for the detection of small DNA sequence changes, government departments and related stakeholders involved in assessing the efficacy of methods for the traceability of PBOs, as well as to a broader audience (e.g., academia, industry, retailers, etc.,) who are interested in some of the scope and challenges that detection of PBOs may present.

The report can be found here and a pdf version here

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Telemeres are genetic book-ends that cap the ends of coding sequences within chromosomes.  Their length is chipped away every time DNA replicates.  Telemeric length is an indicator of an animals age but can also be suggestive of stress or environmental conditions. 

An interesting review article has been published that examines telomeric length as potential verification for fish authenticity descriptions such as organic vs conventional rearing or wild-caught vs aquaculture.

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Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

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A new POSTnote on genome edited food crops has been published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology with contributions from Dr Malcolm Burns (Head of LGC's GMO unit), Dr Julian Braybrook and our Executive Director, Selvarani Elahi MBE.

◼ The Government is proposing that genomeedited crop plants are exempted from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) regulations, provided the genetic changes could occur naturally or via existing conventional breeding techniques.
◼ Genome editing can manipulate DNA atspecific positions in the genome to shorten timeframes for plant breeding of useful traits. This process can lead to unintended alterations of the genome, but these may be fewer than for conventional breeding.
◼ Some stakeholders believe this regulation change for genome-edited food crops could provide health and environmental benefits and make use of UK-funded research.
◼ Key issues for public acceptance and trust of genome-edited crops are tightly bound to transparency and how the public view potential risks and benefits.

Read the full POSTnote.

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One of the frequently encountered types of adulteration is the adulteration of meat and animal products. In its most recent annual report [1] , the Food Fraud Network showed data that in the top ten product categories, fish and fish products take the second place, meat and meat products the third and poultry the fifth. Jointly, these three animal product categories eclipse any other product category.

There are different types of fraud that can be found in animal products. These include addition of illegal substances like melamine to milk, the treatment of tuna with carbon monoxide, and the replacement of high-quality species with lower quality ones, or even illegal ones. An example for this can be found in the publication by Fang and Zhang [2], where the addition of murine meat to substitute mutton has been reported.

Since there are many animal species that can be used for adulteration, using a species-specific PCR is often not economically viable when the adulterant species is not known. Here, the DNA barcoding approach is the better choice to cover a much wider range of species.

In the literature, numerous publications can be found that describe different primer sets to be used for barcoding. Unfortunately, not all methods have been thoroughly validated for the species they can, and, equally important, cannot detect.

The German §64 Food and Feed Law Methods Group for Animal and Plant Speciation has developed a tool that will help scientists to quickly determine which species can be detected and which cannot with a specific set of primers.

The tool, called BaTAnS – short for Barcoding Table for Animal Species – lists relevant publications, identifies the level of validation that has been performed for a specific method (and set of primers).

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Following the previous LGC e-seminars on quantitative PCR assay design and PCR assay optimisation, this e-seminar, entitled “An introduction to quantitative PCR assay validation”, will introduce the viewer to the topic of qPCR assay validation and provide best practice guidance on how to undertake the process. The information presented will equip viewers with the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure that methods are validated and fit for purpose. Key stages in the validation process are indicated, routinely employed evaluation parameters described and critical performance criteria highlighted. Links to useful resources, additional guidance and references are also provided.

Those who should consider viewing this e-seminar include individuals currently working within the foods molecular testing area, particularly representatives from UK Official Control Laboratories, industry and members of organisations associated with the UK official control network.

The production of this e-seminar was funded by Defra, FSA, FSS and BEIS under the Joint Knowledge Transfer Framework for Food Standards and Food Safety Analysis.

This e-seminar can be be viewed on LGC's YouTube channel at  https://youtu.be/grf4tZQOArM

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6838125466?profile=RESIZE_400xMilk has been a food involved with serious adulteration incidents in the past. In addition, where milk and milk-free products are manufactured and packed on the same lines, it is important to avoid cross contamination. With this in mind, SwissdeCode and Dutch microfluidics company DigiBio have joined together with the help of European Commission funding (€2.5m grant), and in collaboration with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and EuroStars, an EU scheme to support new product development at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop and produce an automated detection platform - BEAMitup. BEAMitup combines a digital microfluidics platform that slots into the production line with DNA testing to give results on milk adulteration in 30 minutes without the need of technical or laboratory personnel.

Read the article here

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An introduction to DNA melting curve analysis


This e-seminar, entitled “An introduction to DNA melting curve analysis”, describes the principles behind, as well as best practice guidelines for the application of the post-PCR analytical method of DNA melting curve analysis. The information presented will provide the viewer with a general introduction to PCR-based DNA melting analysis as a method for food authenticity testing, and provide guidance on how to design, implement and analyse PCR DNA melting assay data. Topics covered will include the principles underpinning DNA melting analysis, designing PCR DNA melting assays, examples of PCR instruments compatible with DNA melting analysis, and guidance on troubleshooting. Those who should consider viewing this e-seminar include individuals currently working within the foods molecular testing area, particularly representatives from UK Official Control Laboratories, industry and members of organisations associated with the UK official control network.

View e-seminar here.

The production of this e-seminar was funded by Defra, FSA, FSS and BEIS under the Joint Knowledge Transfer Framework for Food Standards and Food Safety Analysis.

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LGC has published the first in a series of e-seminars on best practice in real-time PCR for food authenticity testing. The series of e-seminars, viewable online, has been designed to disseminate best measurement practice guidance on the application of DNA-based methods for food authenticity testing. The seminar, produced by LGC with funding from Defra, can be viewed here, on the Food Authenticity Website, by viewing the complete article.
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