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J Food Prot. 2006 Aug;69(8):1971-7.

Genetic control of conventional labeling through the bovine meat production chain by single nucleotide polymorphisms using real-time PCR.

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  • 1Istituto Sperimentale Italiano Lazzaro Spallanzani, Milan, Italy.


Since January 2002, the European Union has adopted precise guidelines aimed at protecting the safety of meat and controlling the production chain. To this purpose, the conventional traceability of livestock and meat represents the main tool, but verification of traceability requires genetic support. At present, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) represent the most innovative molecular markers in genotyping studies. The aim of this study was to verify correct labeling in a bovine meat production chain by a real-time PCR protocol based on SNP analysis. Reference hair samples from 5,000 animals were randomly collected from 22 farms. Twelve hundred meat samples were collected at different steps of the bovine meat production chain. In particular, 1,000 meat samples were collected at the slaughterhouse and 200 samples from the same animals directly at the butcher's shop. The protocol was optimized and validated by testing a set of 16 SNP markers on 95 DNA samples from bovine sires of different breeds. Thereafter, the genotyping of 2,200 samples was conducted with a set of 12 selected SNPs to verify traceability of the meat production chain at three different stages: farm, slaughterhouse, and butcher's shop. Irregularities in conventional traceability were evidenced directly in 1.87% of the samples at the slaughterhouse. This percentage increased to 3.25% when sampling was conducted at the butcher's shop. This study demonstrates that despite the precautions adopted over the meat production chain, some critical points still exist that cause the loss of a correct association between registration numbers and samples.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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