Combat Food Counterfeiters: DNA Printing

November 29, 2011

Food fraud is something that is getting increasingly popular. Find out what a Japanese company is doing to combat the counterfeiters.

Food counterfeiters have met their match: a Japan based printing company, that is using Applied DNA Sciences (ADPN) technology to protect the brands of fish and other products which have recently become victims of counterfeiting. The new printing system uses “DNA ink,” derived from plant DNA, to mark and authenticate labels on high-value fish and other food products.

Using the new printing system and a special handheld detector, foods can be instantly verified; the system is purported to be entirely safe, non-invasive, and foods are not altered.
How did we get to this point? Greed. Branded foods and certain types of seafood sell for several times as much as their less desired counterparts – less desired because of type or even the area or how they were produced. Not only do consumers and retailers end up paying more for this “bait and switch,” but they may also get a product that can be harmful to their health.
The Institute of Food Technologists recently released a report that confirms this and warns that fraud is a threat just as real as food safety and food security. Unfortunately it’s not getting the same amount of attention.
The December issue of Consumer Reports Magazine boasts the article “Mystery Fish” that claims more than one-fifth of 190 pieces of seafood purchased at retail stores and restaurants in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were mislabeled as different species, incompletely labeled, or misidentified by in-store associates.
Food fraud is something all producers, retails and consumers shouldn’t have to worry about, but unfortunately it seems we all need to be on our toes and questioning every product that passes through the warehouse or scans at the grocery checkout.  With the new DNA printing technology, we can be more trustworthy when shopping in stores or eating at restaurants – unfortunately it has come to this point, but at least we have a solution.