The project uses a combination of multi-element and multi-isotopic techniques with statistical analysis to determine the geographical origin of beef. The feasibility of this approach has already been demonstrated with dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese.
Therefore this project seeks to build on existing knowledge, applying these types of techniques to well-characterised samples of beef from different regions within Europe and the UK.
This will include:
Assessing the ability of the proposed method to determine the origin of beef from a wider number of regions.
<li>Compiling a database of characteristic isotopic and multi-element signatures for UK and European beef.
<li>Characterising PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) products such as Scotch and Orkney beef.
<li>Assessing the possibility of using geochemical maps to determine geographical origin.</ul>
As a result of concerns relating to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), human variant CJD and the impact on the Internal Market for Beef, the EU has produced new legislation concerning labelling of beef. The introduction of EU-wide compulsory beef labelling rules, from 1 September 2000 onwards [(EC) No 2772/1999] should provide consumers with correct, complete and transparent information to enable them to make an informed choice on the type and origin of beef they purchase.
Therefore this research aims to develop analytical methods that can verify origin labels describing where an animal has been reared. It is inevitable that at some time in the future attempts will be made to subvert the beef labelling regulations through, for example consumer-preference/premium-values for beef from a particular geographical origin.
<p>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>.