Customer demand prompts PCR investment

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Exova invested in the MagMax Express 96 extraction system from Life Technologies
Exova invested in the MagMax Express 96 extraction system from Life Technologies

Related tags Supply chain Horse meat scandal Polymerase chain reaction

Customer demand prompted investment in DNA analysis and authentication equipment to test a range of food products, according to Exova.

The food advisory and testing group said the equipment will test for the presence of beef, pork, lamb, poultry and horse.

It is the first time this type of equipment will be installed in the food testing laboratory in Birmingham, UK and it was accredited by UKAS within the last few weeks.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) equipment amplifies fragments of DNA to confirm the meat source is precisely as claimed.

The equipment is a MagMax Express 96 extraction system and a 7500 real-time PCR system from Life Technologies.

Industry action

Stuart Neill, group communications manager, Exova, said the investment was due to customer demand.

Exova lab 2
Exova investment

“Since the horse meat scandal the supply chain and retailers have taken more action to ensure the chain of their product is monitored greater than it has ever been before,” ​he told

“It has highlighted the global needs of the supply chain as, for example, we are working with the same customers in Canada and the UK​.

“With horsemeat, the industry was perhaps viewed unfairly as it already conducted extensive levels of testing, but with government and consumer scrutiny they are now doing even more."

Extended capability

Neill said the firm now has the capability to go alongside its advisory and authentication.   

"We support a full spectrum of testing and advisory services for customers. PCR is an example of how we follow and anticipate market needs, ensuring customers products are tested to the very highest standards and regulations.

“It brings a hotspot for consumers and additional assurance for our customers because with the testing they can be confident in the product they give to their customers is of a high quality.”

During PCR, by heating and cooling the target DNA through temperature steps, the source content or presence of any undeclared animal protein as low as 0.1%, can be confirmed.

The technology can be applied across a range of testing including the detection of food poisoning organisms.

Pat McNamara, operations manager at Exova’s Birmingham laboratory, said:  “This accredited capability ensures a high level of accuracy and gives customers essential confirmation of the validity of the meat content of their products.

“There are benefits for the whole supply chain because we can provide documented proof of authenticity, avoiding any misjudgement and addressing any potential confusion regarding product contents.”

The firm said future developments will include continued focus on the authenticity of products to protect against potential food fraud and detection of foodborne viruses. 

Related topics Food safety & quality

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