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Joint Defra/GC Knowledge Transfer event on real-time PCR for food authenticity testing inclusive of quantitation of horse DNA - FA0162

The recent EU wide issue involving the detection of the undeclared presence of horse-meat in beef products destined for human consumption has emphasised the need for the development of accurate analytical approaches for the quantitative detection of meat adulteration in a sample. In response to this, a real time PCR method was developed at LGC for the quantitation of horse DNA (Defra project FA0135), which was capable of detecting and accurately determining the amount of horse DNA present in beef samples spiked with horse meat. The follow on project (Defra project FA0146) demonstrated the applicability of the method using different horse samples, evaluated the analytical measurement uncertainty around the 1% threshold level for labelling enforcement, and provided demonstrable evidence of the method’s suitability for use in complex food by comparison to a commercially available proprietary kit for horse meat assessment.
The development and delivery of a Knowledge Transfer (KT) event on the use of this method was recommended at the 16th meeting of Defra’s Authenticity Methods Working Group (AMWG) in November 2014, and was also one of the top priority training requirements fed back by Public Analysts at previous KT events. Additionally, requests have been made for dissemination of best measurement practice guidance for real-time PCR as applied to food authenticity testing in general.
There is therefore a requirement to provide guidance on the use of real-time PCR for the quantitation of horse DNA, as well share expertise on the use of real-time PCR in general. Based on positive feedback from Public Analysts at previous KT events, this proposed KT event will follow the model of a series of audio-visual presentations regarding the principles and best measurement practice guidelines for use of the method, workshops on data analysis, interactive breakout discussion groups, and provision of KT event handouts incorporating relevant guidance material and decision trees. The principles behind the method will be clearly explained (Defra project FA0135) and the scope of the method defined based on the more recent findings of the method validation work (Defra project FA0146). KT event outputs (e.g. presentations, information packs, etc.) will be made available in electronic format such that they can be considered for upload onto a suitable web-based interface to support further dissemination (e.g. Defra’s proposed Virtual Analytical Network [VAN] in support of the Elliott review recommendations on broadening stakeholder audience). This joint project will be co-funded by the Government Chemist (GC) to allow dissemination of best measurement practice guidance on the application of real-time PCR for food authenticity testing in general. This will add value to the project by broadening the remit of the dissemination beyond solely that of quantitation of horse DNA using real-time PCR, thus increasing the scope and coverage of the KT event at no extra cost to Defra.
This KT event will allow Public Analysts to apply the method with confidence across a range of samples, as well as equip them with the knowledge and expertise on the applicability of the method and the use of real-time PCR in general.
Defra inception meeting.
Delivery date: T0 + 1 month (31/03/15)
In consultation with Defra, the scope and framework for the KT event will be finalised, inclusive of KT event date and nature of real-time PCR survey questionnaire.
Advertise KT event and distribute real-time PCR survey.
Delivery date: T0 + 1 month (31/03/15)
The course content and date will be advertised and the real-time PCR survey questionnaire developed, prepared and distributed to Public Analysts to capture uses and needs of real-time PCR for food authenticity testing.
KT event preparation.
Delivery date: T0 + 1 month (31/03/15)
Preparation for the joint Defra/GC KT event content including: preparation of presentations; collating, summarising and responding to real-time PCR survey; design of interactive discussion session; development of worked example and workshop questions; production of appropriate guidance material and hand-outs inclusive of decision trees; preparation of appropriate material into an electronic format.
Distribution of pre-course reading material.
Delivery date: T0 + 1 month (31/03/15)
Appropriate pre-course reading material will be provided to KT event participants (e.g. material to refresh knowledge on DNA, PCR and quantitative PCR).
Deliver joint KT event.
Delivery date: T0 + 4 months (30/06/15)
The joint Defra/GC KT event will be delivered and held at LGC inclusive of presentations by staff and delegates, data analysis workshop, interactive break-out sessions, workshop on quantitative PCR, and question and answer session.
Final report submitted to Defra (inclusive of KT event feedback).
Delivery date: T0 + 5 months (31/07/15)
The final report will be submitted to Defra inclusive of feedback forms associated with the KT event.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : FA0162 EVID4   (1136k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2015

Cost: £39,166
Contractor / Funded Organisations
LGC Limited
Food Chain