DNA Tracking in Leather

DNA Traceability in the Leather Supply Chain

Eurofins | BLC, in partnership with Applied DNA Sciences, have successfully demonstrated a DNA based traceability system in the leather supply chain from farm to retail.

This break-through in achieving full traceability signifies a new, more reliable way of tracing leather to its source, in comparison to existing hide stamping and barcode techniques.

 

New Leather DNA Tagging Services

DNA tagging in leather has now been developed into a commercially viable product which has been specially designed to be used by different stakeholders throughout the leather supply chain. Potential users of this affordable technology include farms, slaughter houses, tanneries, leather manufacturers and leather finishers.

DNA tagging is designed to achieve full traceability in leather through the application of synthetic DNA markers at key processing stages in the leather supply chain:

Key Leather Processing Stage

How the DNA Tagging System Works

Farm

  • Application of synthetic DNA to animals

Slaughter House

  • Authentication check of farm applied tag
  • Application of synthetic DNA to hides/skins (optional)

Wet Blue

  • Authentication check of farm/slaughterhouse applied tag
  • Application of synthetic DNA at the wet blue stage after initial tanning

Split Traders

  • Authentication check - test for DNA recovery following leather splitting, DNA detectable on both grain leather and drop splits (optional)

Leather Finishing

  • Authentication check of wet blue tannery applied tag
  • Application of synthetic DNA during the leather finishing process

Manufacturer/Brand

  • Authentication check of leather finishing tannery applied tag

 

Protecting Leathergoods Against Counterfeits

Not only does DNA tagging technology provide supply chain traceability; it can also be used to protect brands against counterfeit goods, through verification of product authenticity.

The synthetic DNA tags have unique molecular signatures making them impossible to copy. When applied to finished articles, DNA tags can be recovered and authenticated. Thereby providing forensic evidence of the authenticity of the product. 

The DNA tags form part of a holistic traceability system platform, CertainT which also includes authentication and supply chain data management.

 

Integrate DNA Traceability with Your Products

Contact a Eurofins | BLC technical experts today to discuss DNA traceability in leather, and how to successfully integrate this system into your materials supply chain. Email info@blcleathertech.com or call +44 (0) 1604 679 999.

 

Eurofins | BLC have compiled the following FAQs about DNA tagging in leather:

 

Why use DNA tagging in leather?

DNA tagging can be used to provide supply chain traceability from farm to retailer, enabling businesses to have a high level of assurance as to the origins and authenticity of hides and skins.

DNA tagging can also aid in anti-counterfeiting, allowing the identification of genuine branded leathergoods, through retrieval and authentication of unique DNA markers in finished products.

Tagging leather with synthetic DNA can also be considered as a more reliable way of tracing leather in comparison to hide stamping and barcodes, due to its tamper-proof technology. Current systems can have operational vulnerabilities and are more labour intensive.

 

How does DNA tagging work?

Unique synthetic DNA markers are applied, authenticated and reapplied at key stages in the leather supply chain. These processes include: to the live animal, post slaughter, wet blue split leathers and in the finishing process.

 

Are DNA Tags Safe?

Yes. The DNA tags can be safely applied to the animal and safely reapplied by workers at transactional points within the supply chain. DNA tags are very short strands (nucleic acids) which do not encode for a protein or biological function and cannot be inserted into genes. Therefore, they cannot be considered as genetically modified organisms. 

 

Is DNA tagging expensive?

No. The DNA tagging system has been designed for application to industry, so it is a cost-effective leather traceability system. For further information on costs and application to your supply chain, contact Eurofins | BLC today.

 

Can DNA tagging be applied to products made from a mixture of leather and non-leather materials?

Yes. This DNA tagging system still allows you to trace the origins of leather in products that are made from a combination of leather and non-leather materials, such as textiles and synthetics.

 

How effective is DNA tagging for a global leather supply chain?

This system has been designed for the global leather industry and provides assurance to manufacturers and retailers further downstream, through the accuracy and reliability of the synthetic DNA tags.

Eurofins | BLC Leather Technology Centre Ltd. (Eurofins | BLC) partnered with Applied DNA Sciences (ADNAS) in 2017 to commence the DNA tagging project with the sole aim of providing reliable and accurate traceability for leather from farm to shop.

 

Why DNA Traceability?

The motivations for this project stemmed from the complexity of the global leather supply chain, with supply networks of leading brands and retailers comprising of multiple tiers across numerous continents. This level of complexity can prove challenging to identify exactly where leather hides are originally sourced from.

The complexity of global supply chains directly contributes to difficulties in management and is further exacerbated by the vast networks of independent suppliers, manufacturers and raw material sources across the leather sector. Eurofins | BLC studies suggest that a typical footwear supply chain could incorporate hundreds of different of tanneries. In turn these tanneries could be sourcing from as many as 500 slaughterhouses and potentially millions of farms.

 

Providing Reliable Traceability within a Complex Global Network

In just over a year, Eurofins | BLC and ADNAS successfully achieved full traceability on a number of hides which have gone through various wet-blue, tanning and leather finishing processes. The project proved the technical feasibility of DNA marking throughout the leather supply chain using SigNature DNA.

Tony Benson, Applied DNA’s Managing Director with responsibility for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) commented “We were delighted for the opportunity to prove our technology in the most severe of environments and to work alongside our partners, BLC.  We are especially thankful to the 5 Global brands, 1 non-government organization (NGO) and 2 Tanneries who helped to sponsor this research project and make it a success. Special thanks go to Ms. La’Deva McKenzie of BLC and Dr. Jo Greenwood, Technical Director EMEA, for their outstanding work."

The DNA traceability project received a number of sponsors and partners, who’s input helped ensure the feasibility of industrial application.

 

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