Do You Know What You Are Eating?

The food we eat is significant to our lives in a surprising multitude of ways. Food provides us with energy and essential nutrients, contributing to our health every day in a very tangible way. Serious food allergies affect millions of people in North America, potentially leading to life-threatening reactions like anaphylaxis. A recent systematic review on the prevalence of food allergies determined that between 2% and 10% of Americans suffer from these reactions – at least 6 million people in the United States alone . In addition, Canadians spend approximately 9.1% of their annual income on food, with Americans not far behind at 6.8% .

With food occupying such a costly and critical position in our lives, how can we be sure we’re getting what we pay for? Even if you carefully read the package, you may not be getting what you think. In 2009, the United States Government Accountability Office released a report stating that the programs in place at the time designed to protect against seafood fraud and the mislabeling of fish species were sorely inadequate . The well-known environmental group Oceana still estimates that seafood is mislabeled as often as 75% of the time, disguising less-desirable fish as more highly-sought after species, like wild salmon and Atlantic cod . Without knowing exactly what is on their dinner plate, patrons are unable to make important decisions for their health, the environment and their wallet. Despite this attention to seafood, in 2013, a supplier in Europe was embroiled in a scandal after horsemeat was sold as beef to the prominent Swedish home store, Ikea. Shortly after, more producers were found to be involved in mislabeling horsemeat, with products involved ranging from pizza and lasagna to burgers .

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Lifescanner and Food

There are many reasons we should care about what's in our food; from avoiding allergenic foods to ensuring you're getting what you paid for. LifeScanner, using DNA barcoding, provides a reliable and convenient method to determine the identity of an unprocessed portion of meat or fish. Groups as small as high school classrooms, and as large as the United States Food and Drug Administration, have been utilizing this technology to test the claims made by food producers around the world. Two highschool students discovered that one quarter of the fish samples they tested had been mislabeled . So, what are you eating? Want to know – use the LifeScanner kit to find out!