[05 June/The Scoop]

AgResearch is developing a method of giving New Zealand exports a unique fingerprint that scientifically proves their provenance and could be used to deter supply-chain fraud. The method can also detect what feed a carcass was reared on. Dr Alastair Ross said the new rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) machine being used at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus detects the molecular phenotype of a sample. This measurement, which previously took over an hour of lab work, can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. Dr Alastair said that one of the potentials of the REIMS instrument is that it can produce data that could be used for authentication, including incorporation into Blockchains so that there is chemical as well as digital traceability to prevent food fraud. He also reports that the technology could be adapted to many other agricultural applications such as diagnosis of disease which could make impacts on animal welfare.