Rapid and cost-effective type analysis of processed foods with the help of DNA Complex

Project title: Rapid and cost-effective type analysis of processed foods with the help of DNA Complex

Partners: Analytics Engines, AZTI, Colruyt (coordinator), Colruyt Group Services, Matís

Research Fund: UE, EIT Food, KAVA, Innovation Program

Initial year: 2021

Service Category:

Innovation, entrepreneurs & educational institutions

contact

Sæmundur Sveinsson

Group Leader

saemundurs@matis.is

Processed foods are vulnerable to food fraud. Abroad, many cases have been reported where such products have been incorrectly labeled. Labels for specific fish and animal species have often been missing from the product description of the product. Of course, there can always be a mistake on the part of producers, but nonetheless, type fraud in food production is often deliberate, as expensive raw materials are replaced by cheaper products.

Loss of consumer confidence can be very costly for food companies and grocery stores. If type fraud in food production is discovered, it can cause a great deal of damage to the companies' reputation and can reduce business activity, which ultimately has a negative effect on the competitiveness of the industry as a whole.

Conventional methods of analysis of ingredients in processed foods are mostly complex to implement and slow. Many recent and high-performance methods for genetic sequencing (DNA) are very costly and their implementation involves high investment costs, both in equipment and staff training.

The DNA Complex project aims to develop methods based on the use of Nanopore sequencing technology for rapid and cost-effective analysis of processed food ingredients. The project uses MinION sequencing, from the company Oxford Nanopore, to develop reliable, fast and cost-effective analysis of ingredients in processed foods with DNA sequencing. MinION is a small and manageable DNA sequencer and it is hoped that this project will yield a cost-effective method for analyzing the ingredients in processed foods. The device is cheap and easy to use and the goal is to train the staff of the Belgian retail chain in the use of the device.

Expected results and impact of the project:

  • Frequent and effective analytical method for ingredients in processed foods. The results of the analyzes will be received within 24 hours, but today it takes up to seven days to receive results.
  • Use of the method in the retail environment.
  • Increased transparency in the value chain of food production.
  • Increase consumer confidence in the food sector by reducing the number of food recalls in stores.