Thanks to the crazy scientific advancement that is DNA testing, we’ve been able to solve murders, find long-lost family members and decide whether or not a mate is suitable. Well, that last part is just a fictional plot point in the 1997 sci-fi film Gattaca, but you get the point.
Now DNA testing can help identify contaminated foods, according to Wired.
Clear Labs, a food analytics company, has been collecting samples of genetic markers of food for the past two years, creating the largest database of these markers in the world. The company is launching something called Clear View that will track down whether or not a food contains microbes, allergens or specific genetically modified components. It’ll also tell the “authenticity of an ingredient (whether the fish in those fish sticks is really what you think it is).” As ZPZ’s original series Food Crimes has reported, fish fraud is a major problem; the same goes for pathogen-tainted foods.
Clear View is currently in its beta stage and is designed to be used by food manufacturers and retailers.
Although food companies have tested their products for contamination for years, DNA testing allows for multiple tests to be run at once as opposed to traditional chemical tests, which can only pick up one result at a time from a sample. In other words, a cookie can be tested for gluten, listeria and salmonella all at once.
Wired reports that the DNA testing is not only quicker, but it also saves food companies money because they’ll only have to create one sample for tests. It’s not a bulletproof plan, however. Brent Mishler, a biologist at UC Berkeley, tells Wired that if something is cooked or reheated enough, the DNA “gets broken down into little pieces and it can’t be sequenced anymore.”