Eurofins Scientific, global specialists in bio-analysis, has produced a new test to detect the presence of avian influenza H5N1 in raw products such as poultry meat and eggs. 

The test, which has been validated in a number of laboratories worldwide, uses reverse transcriptase combined with a multiplex PCR where sequences specific to the virus can be detected.

The new test has been developed in response to continuing concern among producers and consumers that bird flu represents a serious threat to public health, despite the reassurances of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

In October 2005, the EFSA said “whilst it is unlikely that H5N1 could be passed onto humans by raw meat or eggs, cooking food properly would inactivate the virus.”

Eurofins supports the conclusion of the EFSA, but feel that the new test will offer peace-of-mind to their customers. “We were very reluctant to introduce this assay as we concur with the EFSA scientists’ view that the risk is extremely low,” says Dr Bert Popping, Eurofins Director of Molecular Biology and Immunology. “But our clients from different industries demand zero risk for their employees and customers.”

While Eurofins admits that there ‘zero risk’ is an unachievable goal, the company suggests that the new test significantly reduces any potential risk of infection.