IIU Bio-Scientist Develops Cheaper Detection Kit To Help Halal Food
By Yong Soo HeongKUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 (Bernama) --
Dr Abd-El Aziem Farouk Gad of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIU) says he has developed a cheaper and faster DNA isolation technique to detect pork in food items and help boost the halal food industry.He said the relatively cheap invention would benefit food industries, especially those producing halal food items, as it enabled speedier and cheaper detection.
"This is especially significant as Malaysia is moving towards becoming a significant player in the halal food market estimated to worth US$1.2 trillion (about RM4.32 trillion) annually," he told Bernama in an interview.Based on the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method, it allows a small amount of the DNA molecule to be amplified exponentially. PCR is commonly used in medical and biological research labs for the detection of hereditary diseases, identification of genetic fingerprints, diagnosis of infectious diseases, cloning of genes, paternity testing and DNA computing.
Dr Gad, an Egyptian-born German national who came to Malaysia about four years ago, said the IIU's Halal Industry Research Centre hoped to commercialise the technique early next year."We are looking for industrial partners," said the associate professor at the department of biotechnology engineering in IIU's engineering faculty.Dr Gad's research had also seen the development of new biomarkers for more specific detection of pork content in food. Biomarkers are specific physical traits used to measure or indicate the effects or progress of a disease or condition."The detection system for food using my new developed biomarkers is five times more sensitive than other biomarkers. The cost of DNA isolation using my system is also reduced by at least 100 times to 25 sen per sample when compared to any available detection system at present," said the German scientist who previously worked at the famous Humboldt University in Berlin.
Dr Gad estimated that it would cost about RM2.50 to determine one food sample under his DNA detection technique, a critical part for halal certification using DNA, compared with RM25 per sample under current available techniques.He also estimated that it would cost about RM250 to put together a DNA detection kit as opposed to current detection kits costing about 10 times as much.Such cost effectiveness meant that large industries can use his technique to check a few hundred samples in one day to determine the origin of the meat species, he said.
"This is especially useful for the detection of pork content in food items like sausages and chocolates," he added.Dr Gad said his detection technique had been confirmed and validated by many trials at IIU and on site testing at food factories.
(Bernama.com (Malaysian National News Agency), 19 October, 2006 )