Scientists hope to stop counterfeit olive oil with magnetic DNA labels

Counterfeiting and adulteration is so rampant in the olive oil trade — one frequently cited study found as much as 69 percent of extra virgin olive oil in the US is substandard — that companies and distributors need a surefire way to verify the authenticity of product before it hits shelves. That’s where new research from ETH Zürich comes in: chemists have found that they can dissolve synthetic DNA into oils to tag the product.

The DNA can be coded to reveal the producer and other key information about the oil, and with a technique detailed in a paper published earlier this year in American Chemical Society Nano, the double-helixes can be encased in a layer of silica to produce “synthetic fossils.” These “fossils” protect the DNA from…

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