Detection of ruminant meat and bone meals in animal feed by real-time polymerase chain reaction: result of an interlaboratory study

J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Sep 5;55(18):7495-501. doi: 10.1021/jf0707583.


The commercialization of animal feeds infected by prions proved to be the main cause of transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Therefore, feed bans were enforced, initially for ruminant feeds, and later for all feeds for farmed animals. The development and validation of analytical methods for the species-specific detection of animal proteins in animal feed has been indicated in the TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) Roadmap (European Commission. The TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy) roadmap. URL:, 2005) as the main condition for lifting the extended feed ban. Methods based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) seem to be a promising solution for this aim. The main objective of this study was to determine the applicability of four different real-time PCR methods, developed by three National expert laboratories from the European Union (EU), for the detection and identification of cattle or ruminant species in typical compound feeds, fortified with meat and bone meals (MBM) from different animal species at different concentration levels. The MBM samples utilized in this study have been treated using the sterilization condition mandatory within the European Union (steam pressure sterilization at 133 degrees C, 3 bar, and 20 min), which is an additional challenge to the PCR methods evaluated in this study. The results indicate that the three labs applying their PCR methods were able to detect 0.1% of cattle MBM, either alone or in mixtures with different materials such as fishmeal, which demonstrates the improvement made by this technique, especially when compared with results from former interlaboratory studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Biological Products / genetics
  • Cattle
  • DNA / analysis
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform / prevention & control
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform / transmission
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Meat*
  • Minerals
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Ruminants / genetics*


  • Biological Products
  • Minerals
  • DNA
  • bone meal