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Detection of Animal-Derived Proteins in Feedstuffs in Italy: A Reproducibility Study

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Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is a prion disease of ruminants that was first recognized in 1986 in the United Kingdom. Early in the epidemic, it became obvious that the presence of meat and bone meal in feed rations was a common factor in all bovine spongiform encephalopathy cases. The first ban of derived animal proteins in feed was enforced in Europe in 1994 and implemented by Regulation 999/2001 that prohibited the feeding of animal-derived protein to farm animals. The only official method currently accepted by the European Union Commission for test for the presence of animal-derived proteins in feedstuffs is feed microscopy. In Italy, monitoring of feedstuff safety is provided by both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. The quality of official control, usually assessed by verifying the reproducibility and the accuracy of the testing method, is of fundamental importance for all laboratories and institutions using these results for comparative purposes. The aims of this study were to assess the reproducibility of the official method over all the Italian surveillance network and to provide a model for evaluating the performance of the monitoring system. The accuracy of the identification of the animal class of derived protein detected (avian, mammalian, or aquatic organism) was assessed. The interlaboratory agreement within the overall network reached 0.97 (95% confidence interval of 0.95 to 0.98) for determining the presence or absence of animal-derived proteins (e.g., for mammalian, avian, or aquatic species), and specificity of the identification of the animal class indicated that fish proteins are more easily recognized than are avian or mammalian proteins.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Reference Centre for Animal Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d'Aosta, Via Bologna 148, Turin, Italy 2: National Reference Centre for the Surveillance and Monitoring of Animal Feed, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d'Aosta, Via Bologna 148, Turin, Italy

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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