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Food Fraud: High Schoolers Use DNA Tests to Expose Fake Caviar

DiscoblogBy Brett IsraelDecember 30, 2009 10:59 PM


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A pair of genetic sleuths from New York City's Trinity high school discovered a bit of food foul play. Seniors Matt Cost and Brenda Tan collected DNA samples from items around their homes and school, sequenced the fragments and analyzed them with a publicly available database, and found there is little truth in advertising, according to Cosmic Log:

The real detective work came into play when [they] matched the DNA code against a couple of publicly available databases for animal species. They found out that an expensive brand of sheep's-milk cheese was actually made from cow's milk, that "sturgeon caviar" was actually Mississippi paddlefish, and that dog treats supposedly made from venison were actually made from beef.

The duo also analyzed DNA from a cockroach that looks like a typical American cockroach. However, Cost and Tan found that its genetic information was different from normal and they think their mystery bug may actually be a previously unidentified species. For most people in New York City, this will not be a surprise. Related Content: 80beats: DNA Scanner Proves That NYC Sushi Contains Endangered Bluefin Tuna 80beats: DNA Forensics Traces Sharks Killed for Their Fins Discoblog: Small Comfort: Cockroaches, Too, Get Fat on an Unbalanced DietImage: Mark Stoeckle / Rockefeller Univ.

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