Molecular diagnostics

Microbiological food safety is highly dependent on food sampling and analysis for presence of harmful microorganisms, bacteria and viruses. However, conventional methods based on culture and biochemical characterisation of pathogenic bacteria are usually slow and laborious.  

Consequently, there is a strong wish in the food industry to replace these methods with rapid, robust and cost-effective molecular methods. By using such methods, the food producing companies can quickly determine, via their own control procedure, that their products are free of pathogens, and thereby reduce the time in quarantine or reduce the costs of own control.

The public food inspection authorities also need rapid detection methods for pathogens or specific genes to allow them to take rapid action, e.g. banning and withdrawing specific contaminated products from the market. 

The faster harmful microorganisms can be detected in food, the faster action can be taken, and the faster the authorities can take a product off the market, and the fewer consumers will get sick.

Rapid and robust laboratory methods are therefore an advantage for the food industry, food authorities and consumers.

A prerequisite for using such rapid methods is that they have been properly validated against conventional methods and have been demonstrated to be equally good or better.

The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark works on developing new rapid, cost-effective methods to detect bacteria and viruses in food, feed and primary production.

These methods are mainly based on PCR or real-time PCR, but the technological developments in the field move quickly in the direction of sequencing and array technology. An integral part of the development of methods is validation against standard methods, standardisation and quality assurance and, eventually, accreditation.


Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen
Dianova A/S, AArhus
University of Copenhagen
Danish Technological Institute
Danish Agriculture and Food Council
Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet
Statens Veterinärmedicinska Anstalten, Uppsala, Sverige
Livsmedelsvärket, Uppsala, Sverige
Smittskydsinstitutet, Stockholm, Sverige
Kretsloppskontoret, Göteborg, Sverige
Veterinærinstituttet, Oslo, norge
NoFiMa, Norge
Helsinki Universitet, Finland
RIVM, Bilthoven, Holland
GIZ, Bruxelles, Belgien
CDC, Atlanta, USA
Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, Berlin
CEFAS, Weymouth, England
EU-RL VTEC, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rom, Italien
7 MARCH 2021