DNA advance by Chemistry Dept


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 25 Mar 2003

By JANE RITIKOS

PETALING JAYA: The Chemistry Department is now able to accurately and speedily identify bacteria that causes food poisoning and water contamination through DNA tests. 

Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding said development in biotechnology had enabled DNA techniques to be used to identify micro-organisms carried by food. 

He said the DNA method also produces accurate results within two days compared with the conventional technique which took between one and two weeks and with lesser reliability. The DNA tests would soon include identification of viruses, he said. 

“The conventional method is not effective for cases which need immediate results such as situations of mass food poisoning, food crisis and (testing) food for export, especially involving perishables,” he said after launching the department’s new DNA Bacteria and Virus laboratory yesterday. 

Law said contamination of water and food by pathogenic organisms was on the increase and had become an issue of concern to the consumer.  

Food associated with food-borne illness include raw meat and poultry, raw eggs, unpasteurised milk, raw shellfish, fruits and vegetables. 

On halal food, Law said the department was now able to conduct qualitative and quantitative tests to identify types of meat in raw food and processed food. 

He also announced that the department had expanded its scope of services to include: 

·Analysis of food products to ensure they complied with new mandatory requirement on nutrition labelling which takes effect on June 1, and for claims on the nutritional values:  

·Analysis of the cancer-causing acryl-amide, a chemical which forms after food is fried or cooked in high heat; 

·Monitoring of sulphur content in diesel; and 

·Inspection of pirated compact discs. 

The sulphur content in diesel has been reduced twice: to 0.5% in April 1994 and to 0.3% in April 2000.  

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