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Extension of the method to verify meat from traditional cattle and pig breeds using SNP DNA markers - FA0112

The labelling and sale of meat by traditional breed is widely used within the retail industry in the United Kingdom to promote the quality and authenticity of meats and attract a premium price in the marketplace. This situation provides an opportunity for fraudulent traders to gain financial advantage by deliberately mislabelling meat as originating from a traditional breed. Both cattle and pig breed societies have expressed concern that mislabelled beef and pork products are being sold in the UK, undermining the business of traditional breed producers and defrauding the consumer.
To address this issue the Food Standards Agency commissioned a research project (Q01130) designed conduct R&D for DNA breed identification tool for the authentication of traditional breed meat products in the UK. The project was largely successful, delivering a single assay based on SNP DNA markers that is capable of distinguishing twelve breeds of pig and authenticating three out of four target cattle breeds. The identification system relies on the assignment of a sample’s DNA profile to its genetic breed origin using reference data representing all likely breeds. Problems were encountered in two breeds, Hereford cattle and Hampshire pig. For Hereford cattle, Traditional UK Hereford control samples were not assigned to any breed, including the Hereford reference breed which was composed of commercial Herefords bred in the USA. Initial tests during the project indicated that Traditional and commercial Hereford herds in the UK were sufficiently genetically distinct to prevent assignment of Traditional Hereford, but that if a reference dataset were to be developed for Traditional UK Herefords, the authenticity of this sub-breed would be possible. For Hampshire pig, although the control samples were successfully assigned to Hampshire, the majority of the market samples were not assigned to any breed, indicating that the genetic range of reference samples is too narrow to represent all Hampshire pigs in the UK.
This project proposal therefore seeks to extend the reference data sets for Hereford cattle and Hampshire pig in order to complete the original aims of the project and establish a comprehensive system for breed authenticity.

The project approach largely mirrors the original project (Q01130), but will be much smaller in scale. The existing 96-SNP assay will form the basis of the analytical method, allowing comparable data to be generated for new breed reference samples. Following the integration of novel reference data, the entire dataset will be reanalysed to quantitatively assess the ability of Traditional Hereford cattle and Hampshire pig to be identified. Testing of the updated SOP will subsequently be required. The research will be carried as a collaboration with Minton, Treharne and Davies Ltd, a public analyst in Wales and Dr Rob Ogden of TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network.

Proposal Activities
• Collection of authenticated DNA reference materials from the two target breeds.
• Production of genetic reference data using the existing 96-SNP assay.
• Evaluation of statistical power to discriminate the two target breeds.
• Update and validation of the existing SOPs to include the new reference data.

Additional outputs
• Inclusion of the Traditional Hereford cattle, commercial Hereford cattle and Hampshire pig breeds in the overall breed authenticity assay.
• A system to monitor and enforce meat labelling regulations.
• Commercial protection for traditional breed farmers, the retail industry and consumers
• A deterrent to the mislabelling of UK meat
The aim the additional work proposed here is to extend the breed reference data to cover Traditional Hereford cattle and Hampshire pig, so that these can be included in the suite of applied breed identification tests.
The main objectives of the work will be to:
1) Collect authenticated DNA reference materials from the two target breeds
2) Produce genetic reference data using the existing assay as template
3) Evaluate the statistical power to discriminate the two target breeds
4) Update/validate existing Standard Operating Procedures to include the new reference data.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Breeds extension FA0112-Final report   (317k)
• OTH - Other : Appendix II SOP catttle breeds   (605k)
• OTH - Other : Appendix II SOP pig breeds   (647k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2011

To: 2012

Cost: £27,724
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Trace Wildlife Forensics Network Ltd