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Trace Element Fingerprinting of Shrimp


Trace element fingerprinting (TEF) is a technique that was originally developed to authenticate diamonds from particular parts of Western Australia.  It has since been adapted for agriculture by the Australian pork industry, which has developed a tool called Physi-Trace™ to identify the provenance of Australian-grown pork.  It works by matching trace mineral markers from within a sample (this could include flesh, bones, shells or hooves) to a producer database and is more than 95 percent accurate.


Now the shrimp industry, Australia’s Curtin University and Australia’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) are set to join forces on a project that will test TEF as a method to validate the provenance of Australian shrimp, identifying the locations where they have been farmed or fished.  TEF has been selected over DNA analysis because many shrimp grown in Southeast Asia come from Australian spawning stock and are likely to have similar genetic markers.


Warren Lewis of Aqua-Marine Marketing says Australian industry has been concerned for some time that cheaper shrimp grown in Vietnam or Thailand have been substituted for Australian product at the point of retail sale.  Substitution has adverse consequences in regard to brand recognition.


TEF has the potential to trace shrimp back to the locations where they were farmed or fished, allowing confirmation of provenance and safe seafood.  “In Australia, there is a lot of variation in the environmental conditions where farms are, and this technique could trace back to that,” Lewis said.  It will mean that producers—both fishers and farmers—can validate their product to ensure Australian shrimp and different brands are being correctly labeled, valued and recognized.


Information: Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, FDRC Research Code: 2016-261, 25 Geils Court Deakin, ACT, Australia 2600 (Phone +61 2 6285 0400, Email, Webpage


Source: FISH (Australia’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation News).  Trace Tech Combats Fraud.  Annabel Boyer.  Volume 25, Number 1, Page 24, March 2017.

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