Electronics

Hand-held sensor detects fraudulent fish

Hand-held sensor detects fraud...
Is that really grouper? The QuadPyre RT-NASBA can tell you (Photo: Shutterstock)
Is that really grouper? The QuadPyre RT-NASBA can tell you (Photo: Shutterstock)
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Is that really grouper? The QuadPyre RT-NASBA can tell you (Photo: Shutterstock)
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Is that really grouper? The QuadPyre RT-NASBA can tell you (Photo: Shutterstock)
The device is able to purify and identify the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of a supposed "grouper" sample on-the-spot, in less than 80 minutes (Photo: University of South Florida)
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The device is able to purify and identify the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of a supposed "grouper" sample on-the-spot, in less than 80 minutes (Photo: University of South Florida)

According to a study conducted by international non-profit group Oceana, approximately 30 percent of seafood sold in the US is fraudulently mislabeled. That's why scientists at the University of South Florida have created a handheld sensor that can determine if what's being offered is in fact the real thing.

Seafood fraud is particularly common with grouper in Florida. It's a fish that's in high commercial demand, yet legally protected by catch limits. As a result, many seafood vendors and restaurants are selling imported fish that's called grouper, but is actually something else. That's where the QuadPyre RT-NASBA comes in.

The device is able to purify and identify the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of a supposed "grouper" sample on-the-spot, in less than 80 minutes (Photo: University of South Florida)
The device is able to purify and identify the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of a supposed "grouper" sample on-the-spot, in less than 80 minutes (Photo: University of South Florida)

The last part of the device's name is an acronym for real-time nucleic acid sequence-based amplification. Using this technique, it's able to purify and identify the RNA (ribonucleic acid) of a supposed "grouper" sample on-the-spot, in less than 80 minutes. Some previous identification techniques – such as those that identified a fish by its DNA – had to be performed in a lab, and could take hours or even days to complete.

Additionally, while past methods were thwarted by breading or sauces on cooked fish, QuadPyre RT-NASBA is not.

The device is now being commercially developed by spinoff company PureMolecular, under the name GrouperCheck. The company is also adapting the technology to identify other species of seafood fish.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Food Control.

Source: University of South Florida via IEEE Spectrum

4 comments
Aross
The device is all well and good only if the authority responsible for food safety does stringent inspections of all wholesalers, retailers and restaurants selling fish and then severely punishes the dishonest ones. Unfortunately this does not happen. So the only other way would be to have a device that instantly, not in 80 minutes, allows the consumer to check what he or she is buying.
This is just another example of how badly the consumer is being screwed by big business for the sake of greed.
Cyndysub
I no longer eat anything out of the oceans. If you knew about a new study of the number of micro plastic particles found in a tablespoon of seawater you would not eat it either. If you don't believe this then please eat up on seafood, our planet will benefit by having a lower population.
John Banister
What's extra scary about 30% being fraudulently labeled is that, in many grocery stores in USA, about half of the fish doesn't tell the species on the label. It's just labeled "fish." I've often wondered how people would react to seeing frozen meat labeled only "mammal."
Gregg Eshelman
"fraudulently mislabeled" Isn't that a double negative? Fraudulently labeled is what you were looking for.
"Oh, you know what I meant!" "Yes, but that is not what you *wrote*."