Preventing Foodborne Outbreaks: Rapid Detection Method using RT-PCR

PCRmax Eco 48 Real-Time qPCR System
PCRmax Eco 48 Real-Time qPCR System
Compiled by: Prajakta Pardhi, Product Application Specialist, Cole-Parmer India
Written by: Andrade Shannon, Manager – MarCom, Cole-Parmer India

Using qPCR for food safety testing is economical

The supply and quality of food today is constantly under risk. Rising concerns among consumers have as encouraged governments to act in the form of inspection levels to reduce food contamination and spread of disease.

Food sources including meat, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and processed products have come under increasing focus. New trends in emerging economies towards processed meat and convenience food coupled with government initiatives to reduce the food diseases have created a surge in the development of analysis techniques in the Food Safety and Testing industry.

Food safety tests are an expensive business

Food safety typically covers the entire value chain including handling, processing, storage and packaging in order to prevent foodborne illness. Conventional food analysis techniques used to detect microbial contamination like protein-based immunoassays, ELISA, lateral flow strip/protein strip tests and culture-based assays are not only time-consuming but costly, less accurate and labour intensive as well. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) offers a perfect solution for test agencies.


Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), also known as quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), is a rapid and cost-effective quantitative method to detect the presence of targeted DNA-segments in samples and helps in determining both accidental and intentional adulterations of foods by biological contaminants. RT-PCR addresses the limitations of traditional food analyses in terms of sensitivity, range of analytes, multiplexing ability, cost, time, and point-of-care applications.

A range of targets, including species of plants or animals used as food ingredients, foodborne bacteria or viruses, genetically modified organisms and allergens, even in highly processed foods, can be identified by RT-PCR, even at very low concentrations. Microfluidic RT-PCR eliminates the separate sample-processing step to create opportunities for point-of-care analyses

Advantages of RT- PCR

  • The conventional PCR method and other conventional techniques are expensive compared to real-time PCR
  • Real-time PCR gives results in express time with the average duration ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • The quantitative real-time PCR method is not only sensitive but specific and efficient as well.
  • The quantitative element of PCR confirms the analytes through the melting curve analysis. Analysts can measure and quantify the number of amplicons generated and how many non-specific or primer-dimers formed during the PCR reaction by doing the melting curve analysis. The technique can quantify the template DNA or RNA present in the sample.
  • There is no requirement for post PCR, but data processing is required in the quantitative real-time PCR.

Searching for Solutions to conduct RT-PCR?

PCR testing of pathogens has gained widespread use in quality control laboratories throughout the food industry. Cole-Parmer offers excellent solutions for every step in the analysis process. See our selection guide below:


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