Cargill donates PCR equipment for COVID-19 testing in Chile and Ecuador

PCR equipment from Cargill’s aqua nutrition business will significantly increase sample testing capacity, supporting patient care and virus mitigation efforts.

Cargill donates PCR equipment for COVID-19 testing in Chile and Ecuador
April 23, 2020

Cargill donated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing kits and equipment that will be used to detect the presence of SARS CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, in patient samples at Ecuador’s Cancer Hospital of Guayaquil, Chile’s University of Concepción, and Chile’s Magallanes University. This testing will help more quickly identify cases of COVID-19, leading to faster patient treatment and immediate isolation to prevent the spread of the virus. From a broader public health perspective, this testing will also help experts understand the prevalence, spread and contagiousness of the disease.

“These PCR donations support communities in which our aqua nutrition business operates,” said Pilar Cruz, president of Cargill’s aqua nutrition business. “And in many ways, our equipment and experience in the aqua industry combine perfectly to aid and accelerate virus testing during this pandemic. Aquaculture has used diagnostic techniques like this to improve the health and welfare of species like salmon for decades, and we’re happy to partner to use this technology and expertise to help fight COVID-19.”

The donated PCR equipment significantly increases the number of tests that can be processed—while shortening turnaround time. For example, the equipment at the University of Concepción quadruples the number of samples analyzed and delivers results in three to four hours, increasing the potential capacity of test results from 200 per day to 800 per day.

According to Cruz, the equipment donation exemplifies Cargill’s purpose. “Our focus is to nourish people,” said Cruz. “The health and well-being of people - our employees, their families, our neighbors and those who eat the food we help produce - is paramount. Faced with this pandemic, our teams immediately looked for opportunities to help. Whether it’s donating ingredients to help make sanitizer in Europe or this critical testing equipment, our teams continue to find ways to leverage Cargill’s unique skills and expertise to positively impact people during this extraordinary time.”

Cargill is working with its non-profit and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners around the globe to help address food security, health and safety needs and agriculture and food industry challenges due to the spread of COVID-19. In addition to monetary donations, the company is collaborating with non-profits globally to donate food, ingredients and other high-need products for those who are vulnerable during this pandemic. Cargill has donated nearly one million pounds of food to food shelves and hunger relief efforts, for example, in local communities where our employees live and work.