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What’s on your plate? Study finds nearly 1 in 3 fish products mislabelled

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That fish on your dish may not be what you wish, or even what you think it is, according to a new Canadian study.

Researchers at the University of Guelph tested more than 200 fish products from Canadian retailers, processing plants and importers by using DNA barcoding technology.

They found that 32.3 per cent of their samples did not include the type of fish they had been labelled as containing. Seven of those products originated in the U.S. and met labelling standards in that country, but failed to meet the different requirements of the Canadian system.

“At the end of the day, Canadian consumers don’t really know what type of fish they are eating,” Robert Hanner, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

Only 17.6 per cent of the products studied were found to have been mislabelled when they arrived in Canada. The mislabelling rate was 27.3 per cent at processing plants and 38.1 per cent by the time the product arrived at stores.

“The higher mislabelling rate in samples collected from retailers, compared to that of samples collected from importers, indicates the role of distribution and repackaging in seafood mislabelling,” Hanner said.

Hanner said mislabelling can occur for various reasons. Sometimes it can be intentional, with cheaper fish purposely mislabelled as something more prestigious in an attempt to defraud customers. In other cases, common names such as tuna can be used to identify a wide variety of fish, even those which may not scientifically fit that classification.

“It creates ambiguity and opens the door for fraud or honest mistakes. It also makes it more difficult to track species at risk of indicate if a fish is a species that has higher mercury content,” he said.

DNA barcoding technology was created at the University of Guelph. It was used in 2017 to reveal that 20 per cent of studied sausages from Canada contained meats not listed on their labels. Last year, DNA barcoding led to a discovery that 52 per cent of fish samples taken from Canadian restaurants were not what they were believed to be.

Hanner says the study he authored was the first in Canada to look beyond restaurants and retailers to the broader food chain. He says researchers could learn more about fish mislabelling in Canada by tracing and testing the same batch of product at each step of the production process.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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