A new meat identification twist

Results from a recent study show that the labelling of game meat in South Africa is very poor, with different species being substituted almost 80% of the time.

Staff Reporter
March 1, 2013 10:34 am

Game meat biltong is often preferred over beef because of its lower fat and cholesterol content. Researchers of an article published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Investigative Genetics used mitochondrial COI DNA barcoding and sequencing to analyse samples of game meat from supermarkets, wholesalers and other outlets in South Africa and compared them to known samples and library sequences. From 146 samples over 100 were mislabelled.

All the beef samples were correct, but for the most badly labelled case 92% of kudu was a different species. Only 24% of springbok and ostrich biltong was actually springbok or ostrich. The rest was horse, impala, hartebeest, wildebeest, waterbok, eland, gemsbok, duiker, giraffe, kangaroo, lamb, pork or beef. One sample labelled zebra was actually mountain zebra, a ‘red listed’ species threatened with extinction.

Maria Eugenia D’Amato from the University of the Western Cape said, "The delivery of unidentifiable animal carcasses to market and the general lack of regulations increases the chances of species mislabelling and fraud. This has implications for species safety, but also has cultural and religious implications.”

Read the research article on www.investigativegenetics.com