Eurofins Scientific, the global leader in food and feed testing, announces that it has recently increased its testing capacity to detect horse meat in meat products by reallocating some of the equipment from its other lines of molecular testing. Eurofins currently has the largest capacity for authenticity and DNA analysis of any independent food testing service provider to address the ongoing horsemeat scandal in Europe. In addition, the Group is able to easily further ramp-up local capacities, given the scalable model of its large laboratories.
The Group's Competence Centre for DNA Analysis in Ebersberg, Germany was the first independent international laboratory that confirmed the contamination of beef with horse meat in Ireland1 having been commissioned by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to conduct independent confirmatory testing on meat samples at the end of December 2012. The Ebersberg laboratory is presently already rolling-out its competencies in DNA analyses to the rest of Eurofins' large laboratories in Europe to assist the food industry across the entire supply chain to respond swiftly and appropriately to the ongoing scandal.
Eurofins has been pioneering DNA-based analytical technologies for meat testing to supply industrial customers with innovative protocols to improve the safety and authenticity of their food products for over 10 years. This expertise was demonstrated during the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Europe in 2000, when Eurofins was the first laboratory to release a DNA-test enabling the tracing of individual cow meat across the supply chain. In 2005, Eurofins also developed a test to determine the authenticity of Aberdeen Angus Beef. These examples illustrate Eurofins' unparalleled analytical and technological capability to support customers' efforts in ensuring the authenticity, accuracy and safety of their products. These capabilities can go well beyond the identification of one animal species, they can also be used to ensure individual breeds or even enable the exact traceability of individual animals throughout the food chain. In contrast to paper traceability, Analytical Traceability™ based on DNA and other markers cannot be forged.
Following intense investments in recent years in the latest technology and to ensure that it has the highest capacity, Eurofins is currently the largest private independent laboratory in the world for DNA sample testing, with more than 10,000 samples being tested every day in its laboratories. Since the start of the horse meat crisis, Eurofins has already tested thousands of processed meat samples and continues to scale up its capacity by allocating more of its DNA testing resources to this specific type of samples. The Group has the capacity to efficiently handle the marked increase in daily volume of samples, whilst maintaining the accuracy and reliability of its analyses. State-of-the-art Real-Time PCR and sequencing technology allow Eurofins to deliver validated results within 48 hours. Furthermore, for more urgent analyses, Eurofins also has the capability to provide indicative results within 24 hours. Testing can also be done on the same sample for a range of other species which could be present in meat or for residues of pharmaceutical or other chemicals or heavy metals.
Eurofins is also developing new protocols based on the latest innovation in sequencing technologies (Next Generation sequencing) which should lead to a significant increase in its DNA-testing capacity and significantly reduce the cost per analysis allowing a more systematic authenticity testing for each batch of meat, as well as of many other food products, economically viable. This innovative technology will introduce a new paradigm for untargeted testing to detect all present contaminants, instead of the current practice of testing for a predetermined list of contaminants.