DNA Detection Methods Being Used to Fight Illegal Practices in Global Fish and Seafood Trade

April 15, 2009



DNA Detection Methods Being Used to Fight Illegal Practices in Global Fish and Seafood Trade

CHICAGO — Along with the increased worldwide demand for fish and seafood is a rise in the illegal practice of substituting lesser-valued seafood for the more highly prized varieties, such as sea bass labelled as halibut or rockfish labelled as red snapper. To prevent this illegal practice, a number of DNA-based methods have been developed to detect fish and seafood species in commercial products.

Researchers Rosalee Rasmussen and Michael Morrissey at Oregon State University reviewed these DNA-based methods in a scientific article in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

“DNA technology can help ensure people know what’s in the seafood they eat,” says Rasmussen and Morrissey.

DNA-based methods have been developed for a wide range of applications, including quick, low-cost tests for routine regulatory screening and more intensive, time-consuming tests for forensic purposes.
Research efforts have primarily resulted in the development of methods to identify closely related fish and seafood species, such as sturgeons, sharks, bivalves and whales, although some methods have been developed to allow for simultaneous detection of a wide range of fish and seafood species.

Among the detection methods discussed by the researchers are DNA barcoding, which is currently being considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for species identification purposes. A recent study using this method found that more than 25 percent of fish products sampled were mislabelled, with white tuna sushi being substituted with tilapia and Alaskan halibut being substituted with the endangered Atlantic halibut.

To read the article, titled “Application of DNA-Based Methods to Identify Fish and Seafood Constitution on the Commercial Market,” visit http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/122270859/PDFSTART



About IFT
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is a nonprofit scientific society with more than 20,000 individual members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT serves as a conduit for multidisciplinary science thought leadership, championing the use of sound science through knowledge sharing, education, and advocacy. For more information on IFT, visit www.ift.org.