When the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was discovered nearly 35 years ago, it ushered in a revolution in biology. However, at the time of its discovery, few scientists or engineers foresaw how the technology would lead to another type of revolution in food safety. Today’s PCR has become highly automated, making it much easier for nonspecialists to operate the samples, handle the instruments, analyze data, and retrieve invaluable results. The machines themselves also have become more compact and cost-effective enough to be placed in most major food processing facilities and some retail locations, as well as third-party laboratories.

A Hygiena white paper has been published in Rapid Microbiology that reviews how PCR works, describes how any PCR technique depends on high-quality assays, and shows how the technique has been adopted to search for E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Vibrio, and certain yeasts and molds.