Horse or beef? Shake and scan

By 3. December 2014Blog, Quality

Back to the horse meat scandal for today’s blog. An interesting paper published in the journal Food Chemistry describes a method that allows for quick identification of beef or horse meat.

The method is actually based on research that goes back to 1938. It is a chemical test that relies on the differences in linolenic acid in beef, horse and mutton/lamb. Looks like adulteration of meat with horse meat is not such a recent concern.

The method involves a simple chloroform extraction in which a meat sample is put in a tube with chloroform and shaken to extract the linolenic acid. The chloroform is then scanned using Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). With a 2 minute shake and a 10 minute scan the whole process can be achieved in a very short period of time.

In the paper they only describe the use of the method to distinguish between pure horse and beef samples so it will be interesting to see how effective it is in mixed meat samples and if it can be used to detect the 0.1% level of adulteration that is being bandied about at present within the industry.

The paper is open access so click here to read it on the Sciencedirect website.