This study will adopt a proteomics approach to achieve its aims. Proteomics is a new field of study that analyses proteins and their interactions within the cell.
The study will begin by analysing protein samples from different tissue types, including skeletal muscle, from sheep, cattle, and pigs. The aim at this stage will be to identify proteins that are unique in a specific tissue. They will be used as markers.
The identification process will involve the collection and processing of samples to extract water soluble proteins from each tissue type of each species. The protein samples will then be separated by two techniques:
2-dimensional Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (PAGE)
<li>liquid chromatography and 1-dimensional PAGE</ul>
<br>Once separated, the proteins will be digested with a protease, such as trypsin, and analysed by high resolution MALDI-reflectron TOF mass spectrometry.
The use of specific proteins to detect the presence of each tissue type from each species will be validated. This will involve the production of mixtures of various offal and skeletal muscle. Analysis of those mixtures should confirm the presence of the peptide markers and therefore the tissues. At this stage the effects of breed will also be checked.
A mass spectrometry assay will be developed to provide semi-quantitative analysis for offal in meat products. The effects of non-meat components, often found in processed foods, such as rusks, soya and potato flour, on the assay performance will also be considered.
The EU Commission has set out guidelines for a Europe-wide definition of meat products. Products labelled as 'meat' should not contain offal -liver, kidneys, lungs or heart. This study aims to develop a method that allows both the detection of offal and distinction of different types and species of offal. Such a method will allow for the testing of composite meat products, and ensure the labelling of the product conforms to the current legal requirements.
<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>.