Science - February 28, 2013

Rikilt is developing a test for horsemeat

Increasing demand for analytical food testing.
The reason is the increase in international trade.

By early March, Rikilt will have a test available for detecting horsemeat in food products. 'Until recently there wasn't much demand for analyses that can detect horsemeat in food,' says Esther Kok, head of the Novel Foods and Agri Chains department at Rikilt. 'But that's changing rapidly.'
At present, only the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has a validated method for detecting horsemeat in food products. There is also a test laboratory in Belgium. Rikilt has not had such a method up to now but it will soon be able to perform its own analyses. The method just needs to be validated. Kok expects that such analyses will be needed more and more in future in order to maintain or restore consumer confidence in meat and other products.
She is not afraid of the analytical test no longer being needed once the horsemeat scandal has died down. 'It's certainly a hype at the moment but there is a general trend towards more checks on the accuracy of labels on all kinds of products. This is a new example in a series of incidents involving incorrect labelling. The rise in international trade means there is increasing demand for the analytical testing of food.'

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