BLINK: BeefLink - Traceability within the beef value chain using rapid DNA fingerprinting
Numerous food scandals in the past decade have opened the eyes of consumers in Europe on the prevalence of fraud in the food industry.
Food fraud is in many aspects an appealing activity because the profit margins of this activity can be quite large but the risk of being caught is lower than in other criminal activities due to the low priory of police and judicial authorities. Even though no fraud cases comparable in scale as the horse meat scandal have surfaced in Europe since 2013, the risk always exists. For example, reports of ill cows being slaughtered and sold to the market this year continue to shake the trust of European consumers. Therefore, it is extremely important for consumers and farmers in Europe regain the trust in the meat processing industry. Improved traceability methods of beef products have the potential to help in rebuilding this trust. Unprecedented advances have occurred in the scalability and affordability of DNA sequence analysis over the past decade. These analyses have reached the point that it has become feasible to generate an individual genetic fingerprint of each slaughtered animal. This is especially the case for cattle, where each animal is of high economic value.
In this project we will develop the necessary tools to use the advances in DNA sequence analysis to increase consumer trust by enabling the traceability of individual cattle.