March 2021

SARS-CoV-2 PCR test now AOAC validated

AOAC validated test can help protect staff, brands, business, and public health from COVID-19 with rapid accurate detection of the virus from the environment, including SARS-CoV-2 strain lineage—B.1.1.7 variant

The British Medical Journal has called meat plants the “new front line” in the COVID-19 pandemic.1 But they are not the only facilities at risk. A report released by shareholder advisor Pirc in September 2020 said there had been at least 1,461 SARS-CoV-2 infections and six deaths linked to the UK’s food processing plants.2

Factories, retailers and hospitality establishments are favorable environments for transmission. Workplaces are crowded, social distancing can be challenging, and the virus thrives in lower temperatures. Crucially, metallic surfaces can retain live viruses for longer than those of other materials.1

Outbreaks result in staff shortages, factory closures, and lost revenues. They also introduce risk into the value chain. Studies have shown that in some conditions, the virus can remain viable on common surfaces, such as that used for food packaging, for up to 28 days.3

Retailers and producers, then, are increasingly looking for laboratory tests that can help them control the efficiency of the sanitation processes and barriers procedures – and give them the information they need to keep their staff safe, their brand untarnished, and their doors open.

The Thermo Scientific™ SARS-CoV-2 PCR Workflow for packaging and environmental surfaces is a complete end-to-end workflow, encompassing sampling, sample preparation, and detection. It can deliver results in as little as three hours, quickly providing customers with the information they need to manage any potential surface or packaging contamination risks.

The test, which has been performance tested and validated by AOAC International for qualitative detection of the virus on environmental surfaces, includes three TaqMan™ RT‑PCR assays, to target SARS-CoV-2 (ORF1ab, N-gene, S-gene) genes, and one positive control assay, targeting the Human RNase P RPPH1 gene offering both high specificity and sensitivity. Because of the multi-target design of this assay, overall test sensitivity should not be impacted by the SARS-CoV-2 strain lineage—B.1.1.7 variant.

Laboratories can be confident on the results because:

  • The test targets three different viral genomic regions, ORF1ab, N-gene, S-gene, reducing the risk of false negatives
  • Extensive bioinformatic selection and analysis has been undertaken to specifically target sequences that are unique to SARS-CoV-2
  • The RNase P assay is run in duplex with the combined 2019-nCoV assays as an internal positive control.

The Thermo Scientific SARS-CoV-2 PCR workflow can be run on the Applied Biosystems™ 7500 Fast Real-Time PCR System or the Applied Biosystems™ QuantStudio™ 5 Real-Time PCR System which many food and environmental testing labs are used to working with. Both instruments are also suitable for the company’s complete portfolio of PCR tests for food pathogens and environmental samples, biothreat organisms, animal species identification and GMO testing.

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  1. Middleton, J., Reintjes, R., et al. Meat plants—a new front line in the covid-19 pandemic. (2020). 
  2. Riddell, S., Goldie, S., Hill, A. et al. The effect of temperature on persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces. Virol J 17, 145 (2020).