French entrepreneurs launch test to detect pork in food

Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:59am EDT
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By Lucien Libert

ASNIERES France (Reuters) - Two French entrepreneurs have launched a portable device to test for the presence of pork in food for use by Muslims who abide by dietary laws.

With France's five million Muslims making up about eight percent of the overall population, the test, similar in size to a pregnancy test, aims to help consumers detect traces of pork not just in food, but also in cosmetics or medicines.

The kit comes with a small test tube in which a food sample is mixed with warm water. A test strip is then inserted into the water which delivers its verdict after a few minutes: one line means no trace of pork; two lines means pork is present.

Frenchmen Jean-Francois Julien and Algerian-born Abderrahmane Chaoui came up with the idea at university two years ago in the midst of a Europe-wide scandal over mislabeled frozen meals containing horsemeat instead of beef.

Julien was already developing tests for people suffering from food intolerance or more serious allergies.

"Abderrahmane tells me 'you know, food allergies and food intolerance are very interesting of course but you should really diversify yourself in animal proteins'," Julien said. "That's when we got the idea to develop a specific anti-body for porcine DNA."

Their company, Capital Biotech, argues no other existing test allows the end user to analyze the content of a food product as easily and cheaply as theirs. The tests cost 6.90 euros per unit and are 99 percent accurate. "HalalTest" will be available for purchase online very soon, the founders said.

Despite its name, Capital Biotech says no test can tell whether a meat dish is fully halal. As well as shunning pork, Islam dictates that animals be slaughtered according to a strict method.   Continued...

An illustration picture shows a kit to test for the presence of pork in food for use by Muslims, with small test tubes in which a food sample is mixed with warm water and test strips, at the company Capital Biotech offices in Asnieres sur Seine October 21, 2014. Picture taken October 21, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau