Complex food samples (hamburgers, fish stew, meat stew, fish balls…) are susceptible for mislabelling because a mix of ingredients can be fraudulently added. Loss of trust at societal level can cause reputational damage to companies and hinder trade that eventually negatively affects the competitiveness of the whole sector. 

Traditional methods for analysing complex food products tend to be slow and costly. Newer types of DNA sequence analysis, known as NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) applications have also slow turnaround time, but in addition require large investment costs and well equipped laboratories.


DNA COMPLEX aims to develop the application of MinIONTM technology for DNA barcoding and monitoring of complex food products in order to identify and semi-quantify the presence of undeclared food ingredients.  This portable NGS device will allow cheaper and quicker tests at the site of retailers and/or producers.

Expected outcomes and impact

The portable, inexpensive, and automation-friendly sequencers will allow:

  • Frequent food authentications tests with much quicker turnaround time (1 day instead of 7), making fraud (substitution), easier to be detected;
  • Extend the use of DNA based food source identification (i.e., barcoding) for authentication purposes by retailers;
  • Demonstrate its applicability in a retail environment;
  • Increase the transparency in the food supply  chain;
  • Improve consumer trust by decreasing the number of in-store recalls;

Analytics Engines, AZTI, Colruyt (coordinator), Colruyt Group Services, Matis


UE – EIT Food – KAVA – Innovation Programme



EIT Food logo AZTI 2021

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