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Now Published: New DNA Fingerprinting Method to Test Basmati Rice Authenticity

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Method Developed by Eurofins for Basmati Authenticity Testing Now Available

Dec 2019. As announced in July a new DNA fingerprinting method has been developed by Eurofins for authenticity testing of all 41 Basmati rice varieties in the revised 'UK Code of Practice on Basmati Rice of 2017' (Rice Association, British Retail Consortium and the British Rice Millers Association). The Code of Practice (CoP) is the most advanced standard for Basmati authenticity worldwide. The new test was developed to allow the application and enforcement of the Code and has now been published in Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech, a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal covering food science and technology. The publication not only describes the new testing method, but also provides further insights into the descent of Basmati rice and the breeding history of the improved varieties, which were evolved from the traditional Basmati landraces.

Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech Nov 2019 -  The DNA fingerprint in food forensics: the Basmati rice case

The DNA fingerprint in food forensics: the Basmati rice case*
The new test was published in Agri FOOD Industry Hi Tech Nov/Dec 2019. The publication can be downloaded free of charge by registering at Teknoscienze publisher & Event Organizer

*Authors: Werner Nader - Eurofins Global Control GmbH; Jennifer Elsner, Torsten Brendel, Rainer Schubbert - Eurofins Genomics Europe Applied Genomics GmbH

The Descent and Breeding History of Basmati Rice

The DNA fingerprinting results obtained during the study were used  to establish a phylogenetic tree and relationships between Basmati varieties were discovered, which remained so far unrecognized. In general Basmati rice can be categorized in eight groups, of which four are of commercial importance and are named after their most prominent varieties: Basmati 370, Taraori, Super and Pusa Basmati. Four to five different varieties belong to each of these groups, which are closely related among each other.

The Future of Basmati Rice

Basmati varieties of the second and third generation were mainly evolved to increase yields, which was frequently at the expense of tolerances to plant diseases and pests. These have to be controlled with pesticides. On the other hand food legislation worldwide is focusing on pesticides and is limiting these by maximum residue limits (MRLs), which are becoming stricter every day. Accordingly new pest tolerant varieties are entering the market at high speed to fulfil the requirements of international MRL regulations. As a consequence the CoP in its current version is already outdated. Pusa 1718 for example is a new variety with resistance against bacterial leaf blight, which is approved as Basmati in India and cultivated at commercial scale, but not listed in the just recently revised CoP.

Basmati Authenticity Definition by Family Instead of Variety

Basmati authenticity could be defined in a more flexible manner based on families instead of varieties. As an example Arborio, Carnaroli and Baldo are most famous as Risotto rice in Italy. Different cultivars belong to each of these rice families under Italian law and each year new improved varieties are added to the list. Similarly Basmati rice families could be defined based on the genetic relationships discovered in the Eurofins study.

Control of Food Integrity (Quality, Safety, Authenticity, Defence) of Rice – the Complete Spectrum

Authenticity is only one of several challenges, which the global rice industry and trade is facing. Eurofins Germany provides the international trade with a bundle of control measures to minimize these risks including preshipment inspections, loading controls, audits of suppliers, the full scope of chemical, physical and microbiological testing and – last but not least – DNA fingerprinting for authenticity testing.


[1] Nader, W.F.; Elsner, J.; Brendel, T.; and Schubbert, R.: The DNA fingerprint in food forensics – the Basmati rice case. Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech, 30(6): 57-61, 2019

Further publications on the topic can be obtained from the authors:
[2] Nader, W.F.; Brendel, T.; and Schubbert, R.: Advances in DNA fingerprinting for food authenticity testing. In: Advances in Food Authenticity Testing (G. Downey, editor).  Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, UK, 2016, pages 7 – 33
[3] Nader, W.F.; Grote, A.-K.; and Cuevas Montilla, E.: Impacts of food safety and authenticity issues on the rice trade. Pages 159 – 176 in: Rice Processing – The Comprehensive Guide to Global Technology and Innovative Products (J. Sontag, editor). Erling Verlag, Germany, 2014
[4] Nader, W.F.; Brendel, T.; and Schubbert, R.: DNA-analysis:  enhancing the control of food authenticity through emerging technologies. Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech 24(1): 42-46, 2013