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Condiment DNA

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August 16, 2004, 15:26
Jeff Swain
Condiment DNA
I have a sexual assault of a child in which the offender used various condiments in the course of molesting the 2 preschool girls. We have semen stains on a piece of bedding and are having DPS do DNA tests on it. There are also other stains on the bedding, but DPS does not have the facilities to test the stains to determine if they're condiments or not. Does anyone know a lab that can do this kind of testing? And no, I'm not kidding.
August 16, 2004, 16:42
Send it to TV land, care of CSI. They can do anything before the commercial break.
August 16, 2004, 20:25
I would think that the chemists at SWIFS would be able to figure out what you had.
August 17, 2004, 08:02
Tim Cole
I'm wondering if the people who make the stuff could give some direction on this. Testing in the manner that we usually test stuff is going to present a problem because condiments, I expect, are made up of a lot of different ingredients in combination, stuff like herbs and sugar and the like. If you can identify a couple of the ingredients the forensics people might be able to run validation tests on the mass spectrometry instruments and then test your substance. That's the only way I know to do this using the tests that we ordinarily use. But, again, the people in the business of producing this stuff might be your best resource here. Find out if they have any ideas. They may have a test that's used in their production process somehow. Good luck, and if you are successful let us know. This is very interesting.
August 17, 2004, 09:33
Lucky G
What if Heinz has trademarked the recipe and doesn't want you breaking it down? Thye may not want to help you too much!
August 17, 2004, 15:15
Jeff Swain
Thanks for the idea, Tim. I contacted Max Courtney in Fort Worth and he thinks they could test for some of the ingredients of the condiments in the stains and could then testify that the stain had ingredient X which is consistent with whichever condiment. I think that's about as close as we'll get. It'll cost a little money, but a good result will be worthwhile. I'll post something to let you know if this actually works or if it's more pie in the sky CSI-type stuff.
August 17, 2004, 15:37
Couldn't someone just taste it?
August 17, 2004, 19:28
Tim Cole
Are you volunteering, John? "Tasted like mustard to me." I have actually had pretty good responses in the past from companies who produced items that wound up being used in a crime. Granted I never asked Heinz what was in their ketchup, but I have asked an embalminng fluid company what was in their embalming fluid. They were very helpful.
August 18, 2004, 09:43
Scott Brumley
Do you think that if you asked Heinz for help, they'd tell you to "shove it"? Wink