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Identification of Biomarkers for MRM - a Prelude to the Development of a Robust Surveillance Method

LGC, Ltd
Start date
End date
A six month feasibility investigation will be performed using 2-dimensional separations and mass spectrometry detection to seek unique molecular biomarkers that can be attributed exclusively to MRM processes.

Chicken and pork will be used as model systems for optimisation of extraction and LC-LC-MS and LC-CE-MS (liquid chromatography/capillary electrophoresis mass spectrometry) separations. The best procedure as defined through measurements of reproducibility and peak numbers, will then be applied to a range of raw samples from hand-deboned meat (HDM), meat recovered from bones using 'soft' mechanical procedures (sMRM) and 'traditional' high pressure/shear MRM (tMRM) sources.

Differences in the HDM and MRM spectra will be noted and preliminary characterisation of the associated molecules will be attempted. If successful, the work will lead on to targets for qualitative and quantitative measurement of MRM in processed products by either ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) or LC (liquid chromatography) methods as applied in most measurement laboratories. The effect of heat processing on MRMs and the effect on the identified biomarkers will be investigated within this project.

More information
The use of mechanically recovered meat (MRM) in meat products has been a contentious issue for over 25 years. A Europe-wide generic definition of meat for the purposes of labelling meat products has been introduced and came into force by the food labelling (Amendment) (England) regulations 2003. The EC directive states that MRM differs significantly from 'meat' as perceived by consumers and that MRM should be excluded from the scope of the definition of meat. If so used MRM cannot count towards the meat content but it will continue to be necessary to declare the presence of MRM on labels. Existing methodology cannot provide definitive detection of MRM, hence new approaches are urgently required to support future surveillance and enforcement of food law.

Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the Food Standards Agency Research webpage.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project number
Chemical Contaminants
Heavy Metals
Legislation and Regulations
Meat, Poultry, Game