Identification of duck, partridge, pheasant, quail, chicken and turkey meats by species-specific PCR assays to assess the authenticity of traditional game meat Alheira sausages uri icon


  • Game meat Alheira (Alheira de caça) sausage is a traditional fermented product typical from the Northeast region of Portugal, having bread and meats (including game) as main ingredients. It is a particularly appreciated product by consumers that commands higher prices, especially in comparison with the common Alheira produced with pork and poultry meats. Following our previous work in which several mammalian game meat species were successfully identified in game meat Alheira sausages for authentication purposes, the present work aimed at identifying game bird's species for the overall assessment of labelling compliance. For that purpose, several species-specific PCR assays targeting mitochondrial DNA for the detection of game and domestic bird's meat, namely duck, partridge, pheasant, quail, chicken and turkey were developed, optimised and applied to commercial samples of game meat Alheira for their authentication. The assays revealed a high specificity and sensitivity to detect the addition of all evaluated species down to a level of 0.01% (w/w). PCR results indicated the existence of several inconsistencies with the labelled information, namely the absence of declared game species (duck, partridge and pheasant) and the presence of undeclared poultry meat, pointing out to adulterations owing to substitution of game by domestic meat species. Since this is considered a high-valued traditional product that should be valorised and protected, this work puts in evidence the need for inspection programs to enforce regulation. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015