The fraudulent mis-naming of eggs occurs due to the premium price commanded by eggs produced in an animal-friendly way. Unfortunately, the different methods of hen-husbandry do not instil an inherent character onto the egg that could then be used as an identifier.
Genetically, 'free-range', 'deep-litter', 'perchery' and 'battery' hens can be identical. Often the food, water and dietary-supplements (calcium and phosphate) on which the hens are reared and maintained can also be the same. These facts rule out the use of a single analytical approach, for example, DNA fingerprinting or trace element profiling. This project will therefore develop a suite of analytes and methodologies to be used, and the data produced subjected to multivariate analysis.
The project will use a combination of novel and recently published methods that have been shown to have potential for use in the determination of the authenticity of eggs. The objective will be to subject the data to a multivariate statistical analysis. The long-term aim will be to develop a chip-based analytical procedure, focusing on a biomarker highlighted in this study. Emphasis will be placed on obtaining authentic non-battery and battery egg samples, accompanied by information regarding their method of production and the life-history of the hen.
The methods to be used will focus on trace element profiling, microbiological contamination and biomarker molecule identification.
Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.