TFDA developed the molecular techniques for fish species identification which passed the FAPAS proficiency tests to safeguard consumer interests
Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) uses the modern techniques in molecular biology and genetic engineering: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and high-tech molecular biology detection instruments to develope detecting methods of fish species specificity by real-time PCR and establishes the DNA Barcode method by targeting mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) in fish species identification. Over the years TFDA has participated in Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme (FAPAS) proficiency tests about “Fish Identification in Fish program” held by the United Kingdom Central Science Laboratory and has passed all the tests. The satisfactory results demonstrate that the detection ability of TFDA is in sync with those of other countries.
In recent years, increasing consumer awareness about accurate food ingredients is accompanied with social-economic development. Many news and researches about adulterated foods and mislabeling in fishery products, such as species mislabeling (cheaper freshwater catfish sold as John Dory fish or cod) is a serious concern by people. In 2013, the European Union announced that fish was the second-largest product at the risk of food fraud. Furthermore, fish fraud has led to more consumer disputes in the world.
Conventional identification of raw fish species is based on morphological features, sizes, colors and shapes. Once the fish has been made into processed products (such as fish ball, fish floss, fish fillet, and etc.), the species can’t be recognized by the conventional method. In addition, consumer encountered the same situation, which they couldn’t tell the species from the appearance as they brought the part of big fish from the market. Hence makes it possible for dishonest people to take advantage of it. TFDA establishes this rapid recognition methods of fish species identification applied to detect fish raw materials, and reinforces the compliance label of commercial fishery products.
TFDA has participated in FAPAS proficiency tests for years, and passed the tests about identification for 11 species of cod, catfish and flatfish. Besides, TFDA also has published the testing methods of fish species identification about Salmo salar, Zeus faber, Thunnus spp., and the family Istiophoridae on the website (http://www.fda.gov.tw/ TC/siteList.aspx?sid=1574) as references for public use.
Continuously, TFDA bases on fundamentals of science to develop the new detection techniques of DNA molecular biological identification to ensure food quality and safety.