In the most recent example, two students, Brenda Tan and Matt Cost, did some home barcoding in collaboration with people from the AMNH and Rockefeller University.
Among their findings:
- "an invasive species of insect in a box of grapefruit from Texas"
- "what could be a new species or subspecies of New York cockroach"
- multiple mislabelled food products including (quoted from the press release, I note)
- An expensive specialty “sheep’s milk” cheese made in fact from cow’s milk;
- “Venison” dog treats made of beef;
- “Sturgeon caviar” that was really Mississippi paddlefish;
- A delicacy called “dried shark,” which proved to be freshwater Nile perch from Africa;
- A label of “frozen yellow catfish” on walking catfish, an invasive species;
- “Dried olidus” (smelt) that proved to be Japanese anchovy, an unrelated fish;
- “Caribbean red snapper” that turned out to be Malabar blood snapper, a fish from Southeast Asia.
And what I find most interesting, is this built upon work of other students from Trinity Kate Stoeckle and Louisa Strauss who had done a restaurant based barcoding study last year.
This type of work is cool in so many ways. It gets students into science. It is an applied us of taxonomy (though I note, barcoding is not without controversy in the taxonomy community). It is a useful form of citizen science -- and may eventually provide a way to keep dishonest sellers on their toes ... Kudos to all involved in this
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