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Media Centre >> Press Releases Archive >> 2001-12-10

Largest ever conducted cattle DNA traceability study completed

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Monday, December 10, 2001


The region "Pays de la Loire" has announced the completion of its DNA traceability project in the West of France on a total of 14,000 cows. The study was particularly justified in light of the crises that have shaken the food industry over the last few years, not only BSE, but also dioxin contamination and listeriosis. This has led to stronger consumer awareness in two main areas:

  • an increased need for safer food products
  • a demand for more information about the sources of food as well as the production process, especially for beef products.

This new project, jointly conducted by "Pays de la Loire", "Bovi Loire" and EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC, focussed on systematic sampling and DNA fingerprinting throughout the beef production chain over several months in order to prove that the existing traceability and quality assurance schemes work properly.

The feasibility of such a DNA traceability scheme had not been tested in an industrial context. This was made possible by the experiment carried out in the Pays de Loire Region, the biggest of its type to date in continental Europe, since:

  • 14,000 samples were taken from regional industry locations
  • The analytical results demonstrated the compliance of the existing traceability systems developed for the different steps of the transformation process - the carcass, primals and meat pieces

The Regional Authorities have taken several steps in the recent years to develop the region to a high-tech domain. These initiatives include support for setting up new companies, investment in modern technologies and a broad spectrum of activities to stimulate employment in the region. The "Pays de la Loire" region initiated the genotyping project.

EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC is a world leading bioanalytical group that was founded in Nantes 14 years ago. The Group has today 1,900 staff, over 50 labs worldwide and a core competence in applied molecular biology analysis. The project provided staff from the partner companies with the necessary training to collect tissue samples at selected stages of the beef production, ranging from abattoirs to supermarkets. The samples were sent to the Nantes biotech lab of EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC and subsequently analysed to trace back their identity and origin.

Dr. Gilles Martin, CEO of EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC: "I believe this is the largest pilot project ever conducted to collect DNA fingerprints of cattle in Continental Europe. I am proud that our company has proven that we are able to process such a massive number of samples and to contribute to highlighting the meat industry's quality and transparency efforts."

François Fillon, President of the "Pays de la Loire" Regional Council, "In my view we have set new standards not only in France, but across Europe. This has been driven by consumers' expectations of transparency in existing traceability systems. Beef consumption has suffered from the crises affecting the food industry. Too many people have reduced the frequency of beef purchase, even though the meat is of excellent quality. This new technology proves without doubt, from which animal the meat stems from and it links it to a quality origin in our region. I am sure this will confirm that our region is the number one in quality assurance."

The genotyping project started in March 2001. In a first stage the concept of EUROFINS-TAG™ was validated, including dedicated logistics for sample collection, bar code identification, analysis of DNA fingerprints and database administration. The concept proved to be feasible and applicable on a large scale. In the second phase EUROFINS-TAG™ was applied to a large number of cows in various sites in the region.
The result of this project was that all DNA tests allowed to identifying genetically the animal of origin. EUROFINS-TAG™ demonstrated an excellent correlation between the DNA traceability and the paper traceability of abattoirs.

Xavier Charlot, President of "Bovi Loire": "The experiment demonstrated the use of genotyping as a control tool and its perfect complementarity to the current procedures. These are based on an organisational and paper traceability system that identifies all French cows from birth. This experiment responds to the consumers' demands for transparency that has been established for the entire beef chain, and is a unique example of its type, in France, Europe or even worldwide.

The "Pays de Loire" Region has once again shown, by its dynamism, its capacity to innovate, to contribute to safer products, to inform the consumer, and to guarantee exemplary traceability of its beef, not only for the internal market (via the numerous actions in which the Region is involved) but also for the export market with the approach "Tutto il sapore della carne."

For further scientific information please contact:
Eurofins Scientific: François Vigneau - Tel: (+33) 2 / 51 83 21 00 - Fax: (+33) 2 / 51 83 21 11
MediGenomix : Dr. Engelbert Precht - Tel: (+49) 89 / 899 892 0 - Fax: (+49) 89 / 899 892 90

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Stefan Eckhoff (Investor Relations) Tel: (+32) 2 / 766 16 22 Fax: (+32) 2 / 766 16 32 E-mail:
Hugues Vaussy (IR France) Tel: (+33) 2 / 51 83 21 00 Fax: (+33) 2 / 51 83 21 09 E-mail:

Notes for the editor:

Eurofins Scientific is a biotechnology company operating internationally to provide bioanalytical support services. The shares of Eurofins Scientific are listed on the Nouveau Marché in Paris and on the Neuer Markt in Frankfurt and traded through Euronext in Amsterdam and Brussels. The Group specialises in delivering analytical testing services to clients from a wide range of sectors including the food, pharmaceuticals and environment. Eurofins Scientific aims to become a world market leader in this field of applied Life-sciences and is pursuing an aggressive expansion strategy to add to both, its technology portfolio and its geographic presence. With over 13.000 staff in more than 140 laboratories and a portfolio of over 100,000 reliable analytical methods for proving the authenticity, origin, identity, and purity of biological substances, Eurofins Scientific is already a leading, global provider of bioanalytical services. The Group is committed to supporting its clients' objective of ensuring that their products reach the best possible quality and safety levels in all markets in which they operate. Eurofins Scientific will continue to develop, acquire or license the most comprehensive range of state-of-the-art analytical technologies in order to support its clients meet their increasingly stringent quality and safety standards.

Important disclaimer:

This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgement of Eurofins Scientific as of the date of this release. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees for future performance, and the forward-looking events discussed in this release may not occur. Eurofins Scientific disclaims any intent or obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements.