UAE lab's PCR test checks if your food is halal

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi Filed on March 5, 2021 | Last updated on March 5, 2021 at 10.13 pm
Photo by Ryan Lim

It can also analyse cosmetic products and check for contamination.

An RT-PCR test for Covid-19 is common knowledge, but did you know it can also tell if your food is halal?

Yes, the Abu Dhabi-based Aman Lab is using the same DNA technology to find out if food and cosmetic products in the UAE contain pork DNA.

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A variety of food products are produced through the use of animal proteins and meat, and it is difficult to identify the presence of hidden meat in processed food. Some items often contain traces of pork when produced in non-Muslim countries. Aman Lab uses the RT-PCR technology to check for contamination in food products.

Laboratory manager Shijil Erunamcheri said the technique helps detect pork DNA in food samples from public and private sector clients. "Through this method, it is easy to find the meat adulteration and even dead cells of other DNAs up to the finest level of measurement. Presence of genetically modified organism (GMO) can also be detected through this method. The main importance of RT-PCR is to find out the pork content in food and cosmetic products. RT-PCR testing will help gain consumers' trust and reduce the risk of contamination."

Explaining how food items like raw meat are tested at state-of-the-art molecular biology labs, he said: "A meat sample will be up to 300g to 500g. First, there is a registration process and a barcode is pasted on the sample. Once a sample is registered, it is verified and analysis done. The sample preparation and extraction procedure is done as we cannot put raw meat into the equipment. Once the sample is prepared, it is placed into the RT-PCR equipment."

The results of the analysis are out within a few hours.

Aman Lab, part of the National Catering Company, and located in Khalifa Industrial Zone (KIZAD), provides advanced analytical services, including halal testing.


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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