Molecular biological analysis in the field of food and feed

Molecular biological analyses are used in almost all industries and are an important part of modern laboratory analytics.

Especially in the food industry, molecular biological tests are of great importance, especially when it comes to allergens, genetic engineering and adulteration tests.

Accordingly, the following components can be tested:

  • Genetically modified plants
    The most common genetically modified plants include maize, soy and rapeseed. In the food industry, processed products from genetically modified plants such as lecithin and fats are often used.Furthermore, molecular biology plays a major role in feed analysis, because we can also detect genetically modified organisms here. Genetically modified soy meal, for example, is often introduced into animal feed. The laboratories of the Tentamus Group can detect this with the help of molecular biological tests. This is particularly important if the use is undesirable or not even labelled
  • Allergens
    According to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, there are 14 triggers for allergies or intolerances in the EU.These include:

    1. Gluten
    2. Crustaceans
    3. Eggs
    4. Fish
    5. Peanuts
    6. Soya
    7. Milk
    8. Nuts
    9. Celery
    10. Mustard
    11. Sesame seeds
    12. Sulphur dioxide and Sulphites
    13. Lupins
    14. Molluscs

The Tentamus Group laboratories test your food for the presence of allergens using specific sensitive systems such as PCR, ELISA and enzymatics.

  • Certain plants, animal species or viruses
    Further­more, the labo­ra­to­ries of the Tentamus Group can deter­mine whether certain plants, animal species or viruses are present in a product. For example, it can be detected whether rape­seed is found in mustard. This helps to check processes with regard to cleaning proce­dures or to avoid cross-contamination.Certain types of fruit and vegeta­bles, such as pota­toes, can also be identified.Furthermore, it can be checked whether certain animal species are contained in food prod­ucts. This is impor­tant in the case of reli­gious regu­la­tions (e.g. kosher, halal), for example to prove the pres­ence or absence of pork. Food fraud also plays a major role here, as there have been cases in the past where, for example, horse meat was found in lasagne.Contamination with viruses such as plant path­o­genic CaMV (cauli­flower mosaic virus) can also be detected.Molecular biolog­ical analyses are of partic­ular interest for feed, since according to the EU, certain animal compo­nents are not allowed to be fed.
  • Pathogens
    Another impor­tant area of mole­c­ular biology is the detec­tion of pathogens such as E.coli. Using mole­c­ular biology methods such as PCR, extremely sensi­tive and rapid pathogen detec­tion is possible. Listeria spp. and Listeria mono­cy­to­genes, for example, can be deter­mined in various food groups within 6 hours using RT-PCR.More on the rapid detec­tion of Listeria: TentaSpeed L. mono”: Testing for Listeria spp. & Listeria mono­cy­to­genes in food in 6h!Mole­c­ular biolog­ical detec­tion of pathogens is also of great impor­tance in animal feed.

Molecular biological analysis in the field of medical devices and medicinal products

In the field of bioanalytics for medical devices and medicinal products, the following molecular biological examination focuses are available:

  • Nucleic acid analysis (DNA or RNA)
    The laboratories of the Tentamus Group analyze the identity, content and purity of nucleic acids using conventional or quantitative PCR. This may involve the identity and number of genome copies of, for example, viral vectors used in vaccines as well as microbiological production strains, but also the detection of “model” contaminants such as host cell DNA (host cell DNA), mycobacteria, mycoplasmas and the minute virus of mice (MVM).

    In addition, contaminations by DNA- or RNA-degrading enzymes, so-called DNases and RNases, can be examined in products.

  • Functional bioassays
    In the process of functional bioassays or cell effector assays, such as biocompatibility analysis for medical devices (ISO 10993), cell culture-based in vitro techniques are used. Here, products can be tested in various cell culture models for their cytotoxicity, skin irritation and sensitivity. When testing vector vaccines, the viral purity (adventitious agents), the replication capacity and the infectivity of the corresponding batch can be determined, among other things.
  • Immune and cell analysis
    Immune and cell analysis covers a wide range of analytical methods, which are carried out according to ICH M3, EMEA, ISO and FDA.

    With the help of ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay) systems and flow cytometry (or FACS), various cell- and immunospecific parameters can be analysed. Thus, various cytokines, chemokines and different proteins/enzymes (e.g. host cell protein, benzonase) can be quantified in blood, tissue and production samples.

    In order to map human immuno- and inflammatory reactions (e.g. haemolysis, blood coagulation, complement activation) to medical devices and drugs, ex vivo studies are carried out with fresh human blood.

    In pharmacokinetic (PK) studies, for example, the serum stability of molecules such as antibodies or other analytes is determined over a certain period of time. A special ELISA method on the MesoScale platform (electro-chemo-luminescence) is used for this.


Where is control through molecular biological analyses particularly important?

Some areas of the food industry are perceived by the public as partic­u­larly sensi­tive. Here, safety must be ensured through strict quality control.

This concerns in particular:

  • GMO-free animal feed

    In order for animal prod­ucts such as milk to be declared GMO-free, the corre­sponding feed­stuffs must also be free of genetic engineering.

  • Vegan and vege­tarian products

    There are more and more vegan or vege­tarian people. Prod­ucts labeled as such are subject to strict controls. In partic­ular, prod­ucts must be checked for animal DNA.

  • Food Fraud

    Some foods are suscep­tible to food fraud. A few years ago, there were frequent cases of horse­meat in lasagne. With the help of mole­c­ular biolog­ical methods, prod­ucts can be checked for processing of the desired species in order to detect such substi­tu­tions. For example, high-priced fish can be distin­guished from lower-priced fish.

    Other prod­ucts where food fraud frequently occurs are:

    1. Coffee
    2. Tea
    3. Cooking oils
    4. Herbs/​spices
    5. Honey
    6. Fruits
    7. Vegeta­bles

    With the help of various methods, including Next Gener­a­tion Sequencing” (NGS), food fraud can be reli­ably detected.

Marketability Testing Food

Analyses offered
by molecular biology laboratories

  • Adul­ter­ation tests (Food Fraud)
    In an adul­ter­ation test, certain plants or animal species can be iden­ti­fied. In this way, they can be tested for their pres­ence or absence and adul­ter­ation can be prevented.
  • Allergen screening
    Prod­ucts are screened for the 14 substances that trigger aller­gies or intol­er­ances, as these repre­sent a major health risk for allergy sufferers.
  • GMO screening
    The labo­ra­to­ries of the Tentamus Group carry out analyt­ical checks of your food and feed for genetic engi­neering (GMO/GVO).
  • Veggie, vegan and ethical testing
    Test mate­rial for the pres­ence of ingre­di­ents of animal origin, as well as pork, other animal species and alcohol for halal and kosher products.
  • Cyto­plasmic male sterility (CMS)
    Our labo­ra­to­ries test for cyto­plasmic male sterility, i.e. male infer­tility in plants, which is based on changes in the DNA. This is prohib­ited in organic prod­ucts in Germany and has been found frequently in baby food.
  • Detec­tion of microorganisms
    In addi­tion to the clas­sical method, microor­gan­isms can also be detected by mole­c­ular biology using PCR. This method is very fast and sensi­tive in the deter­mi­na­tion of pathogens.
  • Exam­i­na­tion of viral vectors
    PCR appli­ca­tions are used to iden­tify intro­duced trans­genes. This supports the produc­tion of vaccines and the estab­lish­ment of gene therapy applications.
  • Residual host cell DNA/RNA
    Mole­c­ular biolog­ical analyses ensure that biophar­ma­ceu­tical prod­ucts are free of residual host cell DNA or RNA. The absence of cont­a­m­i­na­tion is checked during various produc­tion and purifi­ca­tion steps. Cont­a­m­i­na­tion with nucleic acids can be detected using various PCR and hybridi­s­a­tion methods.
  • Appli­ca­tions in clin­ical trials
    By means of mole­c­ular biolog­ical analyses, e.g. PCR, rele­vant para­me­ters for clin­ical studies can be inves­ti­gated. To assess phar­ma­co­dy­namics, enzy­matic activ­i­ties and the expres­sion of specific mRNA, among other things, can be investigated.

For many of our customers, we have already devel­oped new test systems, carried out vali­da­tion and compar­a­tive studies, and provided analyt­ical solu­tions for specific problems.

We would be happy to support you in the plan­ning, devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of your system.

Method range
of the Tentamus Group


With the help of PCR (poly­merase chain reac­tion) specific nucleic acid sequences can be detected. For example, it is possible to deter­mine which animal species is present in a product or which allergen.

Further infor­ma­tion on PCR: Variety iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of apples using PCR


ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosor­bent Assay) is a protein-based method for the detec­tion of larger peptides and proteins. The analysis of the test mate­rial is carried out with the help of highly specific anti­bodies that react with antigens.


Next Gener­a­tion Sequencing is a special proce­dure for DNA sequencing. It can also be used to check mixed prod­ucts and it is not neces­sary to know what you are looking for beforehand.

How long does a mole­c­ular biolog­ical analysis take?
The processing time depends on various factors, such as the sample matrix and the range of analyses. For GMO and allergen analyses, we can provide you with the results within 3 working days. Express analyses can be carried out within 8 hours.

Laboratories for molecular biological analyses of the Tentamus Group

The following labo­ra­to­ries from the Tentamus Group offer mole­c­ular biolog­ical analyses:

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