Multi-instrument Evaluation of a Real-time PCR Assay for Identification of Atlantic Salmon: a Case Study on the Use of a Pre-packaged Kit for Rapid Seafood Species Identification


Protecting the seafood supply chain from species substitution is critical for economic, health, and conservation reasons. DNA-based methods represent an effective means to detect species substitution, but current methods can be time consuming or costly, and require specialized instruments and operators. Real-time PCR provides an alternative that can be performed quickly, and in some cases even on-site. The use of commercial kits reduces the expertise required by the operator and therefore increases accessibility to testing. This potentially increases the likelihood of adoption into the supply chain, but only if the kits are robust across multiple operators, instruments, and samples. In this study, the InstantID™ Atlantic salmon kits were tested on a variety of instruments with market samples of fresh, frozen, smoked, and canned Atlantic salmon. Results were repeatable across all samples and instruments tested. This kit, and others like it that have undergone appropriate evaluation, represents a means for expanded access to testing for industry or regulators to screen seafood for species authenticity. Portable equipment can bring testing on-site, further reducing analysis time.

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The authors would like to thank Marco Bisoffi, Ph.D., for use of the CFX Connect. They are grateful for the technical support and equipment provided by teams at InstantLabs and Biomeme.


This work was partially funded by a University of Guelph Commercialization Grant and by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency Federal Assistance Partnership program.

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Correspondence to Amanda M. Naaum.

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Conflict of Interest

These kits were manufactured using primers and a probe designed at the University of Guelph for use by InstantLabs. The authors currently have no financial or personal investment with InstantLabs. No input from InstantLabs was made into the design, outcome, or reporting of results for this study and no financial gain was made by any of the parties involved in this study. A. Naaum and R. Hanner are involved with a separate commercial company offering authenticity testing services for food and natural health products, but which also had no oversight of this study, made no financial gain, and provided no funding. R. Hellberg and T. Okuma declare no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Naaum, A.M., Hellberg, R.S., Okuma, T.A. et al. Multi-instrument Evaluation of a Real-time PCR Assay for Identification of Atlantic Salmon: a Case Study on the Use of a Pre-packaged Kit for Rapid Seafood Species Identification. Food Anal. Methods 12, 2474–2479 (2019).

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  • Real-time PCR
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Food authenticity
  • Species substitution