Is DNA analysis at a crossroads?
By Steven Hedlund
Published on 04 October, 2011
It’s like fishing with dynamite.
A zealous TV reporter catches wind of a local seafood restaurant selling one species as another. The reporter purchases the fish and delivers it to a laboratory specializing in DNA analysis. The lab finds that the grouper on the menu is, well, a species other than grouper, one that costs much less. And then the evening news airs a segment with an annoyingly trite title featuring the word “fishy.”
It’s an unfortunate scenario that has played out time and time again here in the United States.
However, it appears that the use of technology, specifically DNA analysis, to identify seafood species is at a crossroads. There’s a pressing need to move beyond this “gotcha” mentality and toward mainstream use. More seafood suppliers, retailers are restaurants are employing this technology, partnering with labs to ensure they’re getting what they’re paying for. But its use doesn’t yet qualify as “mainstream.”
Edward Diehl, director of business development at ACGT, which has specialized in DNA sequencing for nearly two decades, says the seafood industry hasn’t yet fully realized the value of DNA testing. But his Wheeling, Ill., company, is banking on the expectation that it will. In late August, ACGT launched a service to meet the growing demand for genetic identification of marine species, dubbed Seafood ID™. Among its taglines: “What’s in your fish burger? We can find out!”
Diehl talks at length about the new Seafood ID™ service in an interview with SeafoodSource Assistant Editor April Forristall. Click here to read the interview. You may be surprised to find that DNA testing is affordable.
Diehl is also one of two DNA specialists — Will Gergits, managing member of Therion International in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is the other — participating in a 27 October SeafoodSource webinar titled “Cracking the Code: The Latest Advancements in DNA Analysis of Seafood,” available only to SeafoodSource premium members. Click here to become a premium member.
Gotcha-type news reports come and go in waves. And it’s only so often that federal and state officials commit the resources to crack down on cheating. (Remember the 17-state investigation early last year?)
But species substitution and mislabeling remain rampant, arguably the most common forms of seafood fraud. Protect your business by learning about the latest advancements in DNA analysis. Don’t wait for that intrepid reporter to show up at your doorstep.