New DNA Test Cuts Time to Find Horsemeat in Food from Two Days to Less than Four Hours
  • QIAGEN's real-time DNA testing solution makes food testing fast and reliable


  • Call to introduce common food testing standards across the European Union

A new DNA test launched today cuts the time it takes to find horsemeat in food from two days to less than four hours. The process was developed by QIAGEN, the world's leading provider of molecular sample and assay technologies.

The new testing method can detect in real time even minute traces of horsemeat (<1%). It is standardized, fully automated and highly reliable - unlike traditional test procedures for DNA and protein, which are slow, error-prone and cumbersome. QIAGEN developed the sample-to-result test process in record time, to help provide a solution to address the latest food crisis. The test is available immediately and worldwide.

"Current and previous scandals reveal a fundamental flaw in Europe's food surveillance systems. The consumer is asking for rules and testing standards that ensure our food contains what it says on the label. Only such tests can ensure that the economic future of Europe's farmers and food industry will not be jeopardized by a few rogue traders," said Dr. Dietrich Hauffe, Senior Vice President and Head of Life Sciences at QIAGEN.  "A regulatory framework with a comprehensive and standardized testing regime will benefit grocery shoppers, food producers, retailers and testing service providers."

There are currently only limited rules in the European Union on how to test food ingredients for their authenticity. Furthermore, test outcomes differ from country to country and test lab to test lab. That's because the two most common test methods - ELISA tests for proteins, and end-point PCR tests for DNA - are cumbersome, lack common standards and, in the case of the ELISA test, don't always work for processed food.

In contrast, QIAGEN's solutions can be implemented across Europe to contribute to uniform testing standards. The testing system is based upon real-time PCR and incorporates proprietary technologies for the reliable and fast extraction of DNA, which is regarded as one of the most challenging steps in food testing. The new test complements QIAGEN's existing offering of more than 30 different tests for food safety, which is considered to be the broadest range of real-time PCR tests in the industry. QIAGEN technology also helps to diagnose a wide range of diseases, and is widely used in forensics, veterinary testing as well as life science and pharmaceutical research.

A range of images of the QIAGEN Horsemeat testing process can be found here:

PCR test: Polymerase chain reaction, a method of producing multiple copies of specific DNA
and RNA sequences for detection and evaluation. PCR is one of the most frequently used techniques in many areas of basic and applied research, from forensics and medical diagnostics to food testing. QIAGEN offers several PCR technologies and a proprietary PCR detection platform.

Elisa test: The Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay test uses antibodies and color changes to identify proteins or other substances in liquid or wet samples.