Restaurants Fish DNA – Restaurants around the world will soon use new DNA technology to assure patrons they are being served the genuine fish fillet or caviar they ordered, rather than inferior substitutes, an expert in genetic identification says.
David Schindel, a Smithsonian Institute palaeontologist and executive secretary of the Washington-based Consortium for the Barcode of Life, is in Australia this week for the organization’s international conference.
He said he has started discussions with the food industry and seafood suppliers about utilizing the technology as a means of certifying the authenticity of delicacies.
“When they sell something that’s really expensive, they want the consumer to believe that they’re getting what they’re paying for,” Mr Schindel said.
“We’re going to start seeing a self-regulating movement by the high-end trade embracing barcoding as a mark of quality,” he said.
In October, the US Food and Drug Administration officially approved so-called DNA barcoding – a standardised fingerprint that can identify a species like a supermarket scanner reads a barcode – to prevent the mislabelling of both locally produced and imported seafood in the United States. Other national regulators around the world are also considering adopting DNA barcoding as a fast, reliable and cost-effective tool for identifying organic matter.
While it would never be economically viable to DNA test every fish, it would be possible to test a sample of several fish from a trawler load, he said.
Mr Schindel is organiser of the biennial International Barcode of Life Conference, which is being held today in Adelaide. The fourth in the conference series brings together 450 experts in the field to discuss new and increasingly diverse applications for the science.
Applications range from discovering what Australia’s herd of one million feral camels feeds on in the Outback to uncovering fraud in Malaysia’s herbal drug industry.
Mr Schindel leads a consortium of scientists from almost 50 nations in overseeing the compilation of a global reference library for the Earth’s 1.8 million known species.
The Barcode of Life Database so far includes more than 167,000 species.