Eurofins Genomics Food, Environmental & Cannabis/Hemp Testing
Eurofins Genomics Food, Environmental & Cannabis/Hemp Testing
Don’t blame it on the pine nut!
Ebersberg, Germany, 27th August 2022
Did you know that not all pine nuts are edible? Here, Antonina Constantine explains how DNA-based techniques can prevent you from serving up a dodgy one.
HAVE YOU EVER had a ‘bad’ pine nut that ruined your meal? Did you have a strange taste lingering on for days or for weeks? If yes, then don’t blame the pine nut! Some pine nut species are simply not meant for human consumption. So we are here to debunk the pine nut world for you. As a quick summary, P. koraiensis, P. sibirica, P. yunnanensis, P. griffithii and P. pumila are all suitable for consumption. P. armandii, P. massoniana and P. tabulaeformis are not. Pinus armandii is the pine nut believed to cause dysgeusia (taste distortion) among consumers. It is therefore vital to know which species you are buying or selling – but how can you be sure? A reliable testing method now exists which is based on DNA analysis.
How does the test work?
DNA-based methods are becoming more and more standard in the industry. They are, for example, routinely used to identify the GMOs of pathogens in production or within food products, as well as for allergens and the identification of a variety of fungal, microbial, animal and plant species used in food production. As such, these methods can also be very helpful in combatting food fraud or other deceptive practices. For pine nuts, we mainly receive requests based on the absence of certain species or the replacement of more expensive ones – mainly for the absence of Pinus armandii (the taste altering species) or for the replacement of Pinus pinea (the most expensive pine nut) by Pinus gerardiana (when bleached). The DNA method analyses known sequence differences (DNA markers) that have been identified between the varied species. Those DNA markers were originally found through comparing sequences that differed between, but not within, the species. The challenge of this endeavour originally was to find reliable and variable DNA markers that discriminate between edible and inedible species. Reference material of known origin for the dozens of different pine nut species from across Asia, Europe and North America were gathered and analysed. The outcome of that was a DNA-based method that can differentiate between the pine species with eight regions in seven genes found to be variable.
Reliable, independent and trusted testing methods are necessary to help consumers make the most informed and safe decisions when it comes to their
food. DNA-based methods are strong tools that can be used to do just that. In addition to pine nuts, there are numerous high-quality varieties of wheat, spices and other food products that can be tested using DNA. As an example, another such developed method helps differentiate between various varieties of Basmati rice. There are adulterations that can sometimes occur with common long grain rice, which can be less than half the price of Basmati.
Tapping into the power of DNA for meat traceability
There are many big challenges facing the food and agribusiness industries globally. One of these challenges is combatting food fraud and adulteration. Fraud costs the global industry billions of dollars annually, which is not only a huge financial cost, but also a reputational one. A second major challenge is assuring customers of product quality, given the increasing global demand for transparency.
Eurofins Genomics can now offer a newly developed service, based on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), that is able to trace meat throughout the supply chain with the highest precision possible. This technology is therefore able to improve end to end supply chain visibility.
NGS, also known as high-throughput sequencing, is DNA sequencing technology that allows for the analysis of samples and systems at a level that was not possible before. NGS machines can sequence large sample numbers more cost-effectively than traditional methods and, in the process, also generate more detailed genomic information.
DNA is present in each single cell and is unique to each individual. It also is highly stable against various processes and is therefore present throughout the whole beef supply chain. Due to these reasons, using DNA provides indisputable evidence of traceability. Furthermore, DNA analysis provides a rapid, secure and cost-effective method of identification.
Eurofins Genomics’ new offering, DNA SourceTracker, takes samples from each individual animal and generates a DNA profile which is unique for each animal sample. These profiles are then stored in a customised database which facilitates sample comparison throughout the supply chain. You can see this process flow illustrated in the image below:
From an industry perspective, there are significant advantages to being able to identify the individual source of meat products. Producers of premium meat products can use such technology to assure their retailers, distributors and end consumers of their product’s origin. More generally, such technology will enable the food industry to eliminate meat fraud and adulteration throughout global supply chains, thereby protecting food brands and safeguarding consumer loyalty.
DNA SourceTracker can trace every single meat product available throughout the supply chain back to an individual animal. Eurofins Genomics sees a growing market trend of using genomics-based testing to determine food authenticity, traceability and safety. DNA SourceTracker uses NGS to offer traceability per sample within a faster turnaround time and with a higher resolution than ever before.
“This highly scalable and novel technique proves our commitment to developing innovative technologies that increase transparency and quality for end consumers” comments Dr. Michael Hadem, Managing Director of Eurofins Genomics Europe.
Combatting fraud and false claims
DNA, unique to each individual animal, ensures that customers and partners along a supply chain can finally completely trust the source of their meat. It protects the farmers, exporters, importers, retailers, and end consumers from the ever-existing issue of fraud.
Furthermore, should a marker or packaging label be lost and a dispute arises as to the origin of that meat, DNA could be used as the indisputable evidence.
Increasing consumer trust and loyalty
Consumer trust and loyalty is an increasingly challenging issue for businesses worldwide. Our full farm to plate solution is able to place back that trust into the ever complex supply chains, and assure customers that the products they are buying adhere to food safety, ethical, environmental and cultural practices. It is simply no longer enough to place a label on a package stating that products are sustainably produced – consumers want to know exactly how products are made and where they come from.
Eurofins Genomics, Medicinal Genomics Partner on World’s Most Comprehensive, Informative Cannabis SNP Chip - December 10, 2019
Eurofins Scientific, a global leader in bioanalytical testing, today announced a partnership with Medicinal Genomics Corp. (MGC), a pioneer in harnessing cannabis genomics to improve agricultural productivity, safety, and transparency of cannabis, to introduce a next generation high-density SNP chip for cannabis and hemp genotyping, breeding, and pathogen testing. The chip will aid customers with their efforts to breed cannabis cultivars that exhibit specific chemical profiles and disease resistant characteristics. The two companies will also use their extensive resources and expertise to make this predictive test available to both US and international customers.
“Eurofins has one of the largest agricultural testing infrastructures in the world, and it has become increasingly important to extend our services to the burgeoning global hemp market,” said Farhad Ghavami, CSO of Eurofins BioDiagnostics, Inc., a division of Eurofins Scientific. “We wanted the best genetic solution for our cannabis customers – something that can revolutionize breeding, genetic purity, and IP security of cannabis seeds. Therefore, finding the best partner whose expertise would stimulate the growth of this worldwide market was a key component. As the premier provider of genetic identification and solutions for the detection of microbes and genetic traits on the cannabis plant, Medicinal Genomics was the perfect choice.”
Tapping into Kannapedia®, the world’s largest cannabis genomic database, MGC has identified tens of thousands of high-impact coding SNPs that will be included on the Eurofins Cannabis Chip. Trait specific markers including 39 cannabinoid genes, markers for plant sex, chemotypes (I-IV), and disease resistance will be on the chip. These traits are the most important and relevant to the cannabis industry. The data from the chip can be further analyzed in Kannapedia to gather population frequencies, Bt:Bd allele coverage, heterozygosity, and the relatedness to other cultivars in the database.
“The SNP chip will serve as a powerful research tool for enabling more discoveries of quantitative traits and expanding the diversity of Cannabis cultivars assessed in genetic prediction. Our partnership with Eurofins is going to deliver all that and more,” said Brendan McKernan, Medicinal Genomics’ CEO. “Eurofins is the world’s leading agrigenomics provider. There’s no one better to help us extend our global reach. Needless to say we’re thrilled to have them as our worldwide partner.”
The chip will be particularly valuable to hemp growers striving to meet the new USDA <.03% THC regulations, as well as for breeding strains with genes that have been proven to be resistant to powdery mildew, a common and destructive pathogen. Breeding strains that exhibit these types of genetic expressions without the benefit of the underlying genetic information that identifies them as such is a tenuous endeavor at best.
MGC and Eurofins will officially launch the chip in 2020. The chip is available now for advance orders. Broad commercial US and international shipments are expected to begin in the first half of 2020.
Next Generation Sequencing to Herald End of Costly Food Recalls - August 23, 2019
Eurofins Genomics Europe has developed and launched a new DNA-based tracking service for global monitoring of pathogens in food samples. Utilising state-of-the-art Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology, the new offering called DNA PathoTracker will allow both public authorities and private sector customers to identify, respond to, and in the future minimise harmful pathogen outbreaks and costly recall situations.
Mapping contamination instances is particularly important in preventing food recalls, which are both extremely costly and reputationally damaging situations for affected brands. By implementing the DNA PathoTracker traceability programme, a company can better predict and potentially prevent such events and in parallel demonstrate their commitment to the safety of their products.
NGS, and particularly Whole Genome Sequencing, has been globally accepted as the most accurate high resolution subtyping technique, with demonstrated superior sensitivity and specificity compared to conventional methods. Using this technique on pathogenic bacterial strains provides unrivalled insight into their genetic relationship. This genomic information, combined with data such as the date and place of findings, can help track down the exact sources of contamination and therefore avoid large scale recalls.
Eurofins Genomics Europe believes that pathogen traceability is becoming increasingly important given the growing interlinks in global supply chains. DNA PathoTracker has been developed by Eurofins to support the food industry to respond faster and with more accuracy than ever before when faced with a contamination event.