New DNA test promises accurate labeling of Basmati rice

June 1, 2004, as reported by Basmati rice buyers will soon be able to purchase with confidence as scientists have developed a reliable DNA screen that will be able to determine the purity of a shipment.

Scientists at Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) say that their screening method is able to detect the presence of other rice varieties mixed with basmati, and to distinguish between the different varieties of basmati. Since some varieties of basmati rice attract a premium price, and are labeled accordingly, RSSL says the DNA screening method will help the industry to label its rice products accurately.

"During the development of this testing methodology we have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to source basmati rice that is free of contamination with other rice varieties. Although some mixing of rice species is permitted, those suppliers seeking to provide a premium product will welcome the assurance that this method gives in verifying that their supplies are 100% pure," said Dr Andrew Tingey, head of the molecular biology laboratory at RSSL.

“Given that the Food Standards Agency is campaigning for tighter controls on the purity of basmati rice sold as 'pure', this development is a timely advance and will give rice importers a quick and reliable means of authenticating their supplies,” RSSL said.

The method has been validated on all of the commercially available varieties of basmati rice and will give suppliers and consumers confidence in the accuracy of product labeling, RSSL said.