The project will start by investigating if DNA from gelling agents survives into the final product and if extraction of this DNA is feasible. A number of extraction techniques will be applied to a range of gelling agents in their purest form, at a range of concentrations and in a range of model and commercially available final products.
In addition to this the project will investigate the feasibility of developing a method which is specific to a particular additive. A specific and sensitive PCR based assay will be developed for Amorphophallus Konjac. This will be assessed for specificity by application to DNA extracted during the first part of the project.
Polysaccharide gelling agents, in particular Konjac, have in the past proved difficult to detect/identify. However, the use of PCR to detect these substances has not been fully investigated and with the greater use of PCR in food enforcement laboratories it may be an area worthy of further investigation.
The use of PCR relies upon sufficient genetic material (DNA) surviving processing and being present in the final product. Before full methods are developed for various gelling agents initial work is required to investigate if sufficient DNA associated with these substances survives into the final product and if this can be successfully extracted.
<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>.