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Amid Horsemeat Scandal, Detection Tests Sell Well

Tue, 03/19/2013 - 12:09pm
ANGELA WITTROCK,MLive.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Neogen Corp., a Lansing-based developer and manufacturer of animal and food safety products, has seen sales of its rapid meat speciation test kits spike amid a global horse meat scandal.

"Unfortunately, a few unscrupulous people have required the entire meat industry to be concerned about the integrity of their products," Ed Bradley, Neogen's vice president of Food Safety, said in a statement to MLive.com. "Preventing the adulteration of meat products with non-desirable or cheaper animal meat is important for economic, regulatory, health and ethical reasons, especially where particular species of meat are prohibited by cultural or religious beliefs."

Neogen Corp. is the maker of F.A.S.T. Species Identification Kits, screening tests that can detect the presence — at concentrations as small as 1 percent — of different species in uncooked meats and meat products.

The tests cost about $12 each and are available for the detection of horse, cow, pig, poultry and sheep in as little as 30 minutes, but aren't available for the general public.

Neogen officials said the company sells to major grocery chains, food-service type companies and labs testing on behalf of food processors.

Currently, most of those sales are taking place in Europe, where they're helping to uncover positive test results related to the horse meat scandal.

Neogen doesn't provide sales figures.

Besides the affront to consumer sensibilities when one realizes they've been eating horse, not beef, there are other serious concerns surrounding meat adulteration.

One may be prohibited, by ethics or religious beliefs, from eating pork; adulterated products could cause an unintentional violation of those beliefs.

And then there's the issue of what animals intended for consumption themselves consume, and the impacts on humans.

Bradley cited the example of anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, which is often used in horses. The drug is banned for use in food animals because it can cause severe health problems in humans.

Traces of the drug, commonly called bute, were discovered in eight horse carcasses in Europe; meat from six of the horses may have entered the food supply.

The scandal continues to unfold in Europe; foods advertised as containing 100 percent beef have been found to contain undisclosed horse meat, in some cases in large amounts.

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