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Scientists hope to stop counterfeit olive oil with magnetic DNA labels


Counterfeiting and adulteration is so rampant in the olive oil trade — one frequently cited study found as much as 69 percent of extra virgin olive oil in the US is substandard — that companies and distributors need a surefire way to verify the authenticity of product before it hits shelves. Thats where new research from ETH Zürich comes in: chemists have found that they can dissolve synthetic DNA into oils to tag the product. The DNA can be coded to reveal the producer and other key information about the oil, and with a technique detailed in a paper published earlier this year in American Chemical Society Nano, the double-helixes can be encased in a layer of silica to produce synthetic fossils. These fossils protect the DNA from damage that could ruin the tag, and the researchers magnetized them with iron oxide so that they can easily be removed from the oil for testing. The primary benefit to this method is to make sure that products labeled extra virgin olive oil arent just cheaper oils disguised with coloring and other chemicals to fool our senses.

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