New DNA test cuts time to find horsemeat in food from two days to less than four hours
Mar 27 2013

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

London / Hilden, 27 March 2013 - 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 standardised, 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 Europe's 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 jeopardised 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 standardised 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 colour changes to identify proteins or other substances in liquid or wet samples.


QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands holding company, is the leading global provider of Sample & Assay Technologies that are used to transform biological materials into valuable molecular information. Sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNARNA and proteins from biological samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are then used to make these isolated biomolecules visible and ready for interpretation. QIAGEN markets more than 500 products around the world, selling both consumable kits and automation systems to customers through four customer classes: Molecular Diagnostics (human healthcare), Applied Testing (forensics, veterinary testing and food safety), Pharma (pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies) and Academia (life sciences research). As of December 31, 2012, QIAGEN employed approximately 4,000 people in more than 35 locations worldwide. Further information can be found at

Certain of the statements contained in this news release may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. To the extent that any of the statements contained herein relating to QIAGEN's products, markets, strategy or operating results, including without limitation its expected operating results, are forward-looking, such statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that involve a number of uncertainties and risks. Such uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to, risks associated with management of growth and international operations (including the effects of currency fluctuations, regulatory processes and dependence on logistics), variability of operating results and allocations between customer classes, the commercial development of markets for our products in applied testing, personalized healthcare, clinical research, proteomics, women's health/HPV testing and nucleic acid-based molecular diagnostics; changing relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners; competition; rapid or unexpected changes in technologies; fluctuations in demand for QIAGEN's products (including fluctuations due to general economic conditions, the level and timing of customers' funding, budgets and other factors); our ability to obtain regulatory approval of our products; difficulties in successfully adapting QIAGEN's products to integrated solutions and producing such products; the ability of QIAGEN to identify and develop new products and to differentiate and protect our products from competitors' products; market acceptance of QIAGEN's new products, the consummation of acquisitions, and the integration of acquired technologies and businesses. For further information, please refer to the discussions in reports that QIAGEN has filed with, or furnished to, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).


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