Researchers in Spain are reporting that a new DNA identification method could thwart false labeling of shark species used in various seafood products, including the expensive Chinese delicacy known as shark fin soup.
Maria Blanco, Ricardo Perez-Martin, and Carmen G. Sotelo note that consumption of shark meat appears to be on the rise worldwide, with some seafood companies reportedly having substituted cheaper shark species for more expensive species and incorrectly labeling their products. European Union regulations now require listing the species name on shark products to avoid fraud and to help conserve certain shark species.
However, a fast, reliable method for distinguishing between different species of shark remains elusive.
The scientists describe the use of a relatively new technique called forensically informative nucleotide sequencing (FINS), in which DNA isolated from unknown biologic samples is compared to a database of DNA markers from known species.
In the new study, the scientists collected DNA markers from nine different commercial seafood samples containing shark meat and compared them to known DNA markers from 23 different shark species. The scientists found that two of the nine shark products analyzed had been labeled with incorrect species names, demonstrating the effectiveness for the FINS method.
- Blanco et al. Identification of Shark Species in Seafood Products by Forensically Informative Nucleotide Sequencing (FINS). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, November, 2008 DOI: 10.1021/jf8015128
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