Molecular biological testing

Food allergens have become the subject of quality control analysis. Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers lists 14 substances or products causing allergies or intolerances to be declared on the label. These allergens are cow’s milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, cereals containing gluten (wheat, oats, barley, rye), wood nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, macadamia, pistachio, brazil, almonds), groundnuts, soybeans, celery, sesame, mustard and derivative products, lupins, molluscs, and sulphites at a concentration of at least 10 mg/kg.

It is estimated that food allergies affect more than 2% of the adult population and about 4-8% of children. To ensure the safety of foodstuffs, rapid, sensitive and reliable methods of detecting and quantifying allergens in foodstuffs are required which could be routinely used in the production facilities or food safety and quality control institutions. Analytical methods who are used to detect allergens must be effective not only for raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products, but also for environmental and wash-water swabs.
J.S. Hamilton laboratories offer quantitative and qualitative allergen testing using accredited testing methods.

The most commonly modified crops include soybeans, maize, rape, rice, and cotton. Primary features given to transgenic plants are resistance to herbicides or insects. J.S. Hamilton Poland Sp. z o.o performs food and animal feed analyses for the detection of genetically modified organisms in accordance with European law. Commission Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 requires the labelling of all food products and animal feed products containing, consisting of or produced from GMOs. The GMO labelling threshold was set at 0.9% (EC Regulation 49/2000). The GMO content below this threshold is considered accidental or technically unavoidable and does not need to be indicated.

Real-Time PCR is used to detect and quantify GMOs. It consists of these following stages:

1. GMO screening (qualitative method – detection of DNA fragments used for gene modification):

  • double screening (detection of 35S promoter and NOS terminator),
  • triple screening (35S promoter detection, NOS terminator and 34S FMV promoters),

2. Identification of specific GMOs (qualitative method – detection of varieties of GMO soybeans, maize GMO, rape GMO and others).

3. Quantitative determination of specific GMO.

It is estimated that among all diseases caused by food pathogens, about 67% are caused by viruses. Their infectious doses are very low (10 – 100 viral particles). The contamination of food products with intestinal viruses can occur at every stage of their production: cultivation, harvesting, transport, purchase, packaging, preparation or delivery to the consumer. Most of the infections are caused by contact with sick people who are involved in the distribution or preparation of food product. Emphasis should be laid on the use of new molecular biology techniques and methodological improvements to detect viruses in food. Due to the increasing number of cases of viral infections caused by the consumption of frozen fruits, J.S. Hamilton laboratories have developed research methods that enable detecting Norovirus and Hepatitis A viruses in frozen foods and fruit and vegetable products. We also offer testing for Rotavirus presence.

Under the current law, food products should be labelled in a way that they won’t mislead the consumer. This includes information specifying the characteristics of a foodstuff, including name, type, characteristics, ingredients, quantity, durability, source or place of origin, methods of manufacturing or production or other properties. The name of the meat product should be supplemented by the type of meat from which the product was produced. This enables the consumer to identify the food and to distinguish it from other products. The declaration of the composition of the product shall indicate all of the ingredients used.
In order to identify meat species, molecular biology tools – polymerase chain reaction (PCR) – are used. The identification is based on the detection of a specific DNA sequence for the certain meat species. The modern Real-Time PCR method is a very sensitive analytical tool that allows quantitative assessment of adulteration and use of unwanted meat species at a level as low as <0.1%.

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J.S. Hamilton Baltic SIA

Mazā Rencēnu Street 12 Riga, LV-1073, LATVIA

+371 66103389
+371 27087073


Working time:
Mo. Tu. We. Th. Fr. 8:30 – 17:00
On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays – delivery of samples by prior arrangement

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