PCR (short for polymerase chain reaction) is an important analysis method in food analysis as well as in medical diagnostics.
A PCR test duplicates and analyzes specific DNA sequences. In food analysis, PCR tests are used in many applications, e.g. for the detection of pathogenic microorganisms, for allergen identification, for the detection of genetically modified organisms (GMO) or for the identification of animal species. PCR tests offer many advantages: They are very specific, sensitive, robust, rapid and reliable. Moreover, the tests can be automated.
Application areas for PCR in food testing
Real-time PCR tests are very versatile and can be used in a number of application areas in food analysis:
Detection of microbiological contamination is one of the main fields of application of PCR in food analysis. Our product line SureFast® detects a wide range of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, Legionella, Escherichia coli (also known as E. coli), Pseudomonas, Histomonas, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Campylobacter, Clostridium, Vibrio, STEC or EHEC. We also offer qualitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR kits for the detection of Norovirus, Hepatitis and Influenza viruses in food. The test kits are suitable for most standard real-time PCR devices.
Food allergies can cause severe immunological reactions. In order to protect customers, food products have to be tested for allergenic substances. We offer a wide range of PCR kits for the detection of allergens such as soya, hazelnut, peanut, almond, celery, gluten, walnut, sesame, mustard, fish, lupin, crustaceans, molluscs, pistachio and cashew. Our SureFood® Allergen product line is suitable for the qualitative allergen detection, while our SureFood® Allergen QUANT product line allows quantitative allergen analysis. We also offer multiplex assays for the simultaneous detection of multiple allergens (peanut/hazelnut/walnut and celery/soya/mustard).
When producing beverages, the detection of beverage spoilers is crucial. With the GEN-IAL® product line, we offer a wide range of screening kits for the detection of beverage spoilers. Our beer kit detects microorganisms such as Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Megasphaera and Pectinatus. For wine analysis, we offer test kits for the detection of yeasts as Dekkera bruxellensis and microorganisms such as Oenococcus oeni, and Lactobacillus. Other PCR kits detect contamination with the bacteria Alicyclobacillus, which can cause a significant reduction in quality in fruit juices. The test kits can be used for in-process control as well as for final product control.
In recent years, the worldwide production of genetically modified food has steadily increased. Since food products, which contain genetically modified organisms (GMO), must be labelled, the demand for sensitive test methods is increasing. Our SureFood® GMO product line allows for qualitative and quantitative detection of GMO – such as genetically modified maize, LibertyLink Rice or Roundup Ready Soya. We also offer multiplex PCR kits, e.g. for the simultaneous detection of screening elements as corn, soya and canola.
Species specification is of great interest: meat products can be falsified due to incorrect declaration – see horse meat scandal for example. Another application is the guarantee of religious rules (halal, kosher). Our SureFood® Animal ID product line allows for sensitive testing for pork, beef, horse, donkey, chicken, turkey, rabbit, cat, dog, waterbuffalo and ruminants. Moreover, we offer a wide range of PCR kits for the detection of fish fraud. Our SureFood® Fish ID product line identifies fish species such as salmon, halibut, trout, cod, hake, haddock and pollock.