Breed-specific genetic marker test will authenticate Aberdeen-Angus beef

EU - A new proprietary test to confirm the authenticity of Aberdeen-Angus beef at retail level is being introduced by the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society in conjunction with leading international company for bio-analytical testing services, Eurofins Scientific.
calendar icon 22 June 2005
clock icon 3 minute read

Tests on samples of beef from pure-bred Aberdeen-Angus and 50% Aberdeen-Angus (A-A sired), and
from other breeds, based on a technology developed by Eurofins | Medigenomix, have proved 100%
accurate and the testing procedure is now ready to be rolled out commercially in the UK.
The Society believes the availability of the new test will enhance consumer confidence in the Aberdeen-
Angus brand and help stamp out the abuse of the Aberdeen-Angus name.
“Initial market research would indicate a significant commercial opportunity for such a test,” the Society’s
chief executive, Ron McHattie, told a pre-Highland Show press conference today (Wednesday) in
Edinburgh.
“The main use will allow retailers to routinely check product authenticity to ensure consumer rights are
protected. It is the Society’s long-held belief that the integrity of the Aberdeen-Angus brand should not
be compromised and the realisation of this test is a powerful tool in the armoury to combat abuse.”
It is the intention of the Society and Eurofins Scientific to make the test commercially available to the
retail sector as well as consumer protection bodies such as the Trading Standards Agency.
The name Aberdeen-Angus is the world’s leading brand in the red meat sector. Its dominant position
has been achieved as a consequence of its differentiated nature and its delivery of a unique eating
experience for the ever discerning consumer.
“The prominence of the Aberdeen-Angus brand in the market place has led others to seek to emulate its
coveted position which has led to abuse of the name either knowingly or surreptitiously,” said Mr
McHattie. “The potential effect of such actions may lead to the integrity of the brand being called into
question and consequently has on occasion resulted in the potential infringement of consumers’ rights.”
The Society has been aware of this problem for some considerable time and has been actively exploring
a means of addressing what they consider to be a matter of precedent.
DNA technology is now accepted practice in both the forensic and population genetics field and seemed
a logical route to pursue. The Society sought to engage a partner with cutting edge experience in the
advancement of such technology.
In 2002, Mr McHattie met with representatives of Eurofins | Medigenomix who have long-term
experience in DNA analysis and especially in using genetic markers (genotyping) for individual
identification and paternity testing of humans, pets and livestock, for animal species differentiation and
population genetics.
“We assumed that if the Aberdeen-Angus breed was separated from other breeds for many generations,
we should be able to find specific patterns of alleles (variants of genetic markers), which could be used
for typing meat as being pure Aberdeen-Angus, Aberdeen-Angus sired (half breed), or definitely not
Aberdeen-Angus (A-A excluded),” said Eurofins Scientific UK Operations Director, Dr Jeremy Davies.

 The Society provided Eurofins | Medigenomix with authentic samples of Aberdeen-Angus semen, which
were tested with a number of selected polymorphic genetic markers. The genetic patterns of these
samples were compared to patterns produced from authentic DNA samples of other breeds.
“Thus we identified common and rare alleles of the Aberdeen-Angus breed, which can be combined to
typical allelic patterns for the three meat qualities of interest,” said Dr Davies. “The test was validated by
a series blind tests and is now ready for commercial use.”

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