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Real-Time PCR Detection and Identification of Prohibited Mammalian and Avian Material in Animal Feeds

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A method for the detection and identification of "prohibited" mammalian or avian material in animal feed was developed and assessed through the analysis of DNA. A generic real-time PCR assay was designed to detect the presence of mammalian and avian mitochondrial DNA 16S rRNA genes in animal feed samples. Samples positive with this screening method were further investigated using identification assays to detect the 16S rRNA gene from bovine, ovine, porcine, and avian species and to determine whether the DNA originated from species whose material is prohibited from inclusion in farmed animal feed. An internal positive control was coamplified in the 16S real-time PCR assays to monitor PCR amplification efficiency and avoid potential false-negative results. Using vegetable-based feed standards spiked with meat and bone meal generated with a commercial rendering process, 0.1% meat and bone meal could be detected using the general and species-specific 16S assays. The species-specific assays had 100% specificity for the homologous target species. The 16S real-time PCR assays were evaluated alongside existing tests based on protein evaluation or microscopic examination for a wide range of commercial animal feed samples. In total, 111 (0.76%) of 14,678 samples examined contained prohibited material based on the results from at least one of these tests. However, most positive results did not represent noncompliance because they were associated with samples of pet food, which can legitimately contain material prohibited for use in food for farmed animals. The species-specific 16S assays confirmed the presence of prohibited material in 75% of the 111 samples, whereas the existing protein and microscope tests confirmed the presence of this material in 25 and 54% of the samples, respectively.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Molecular Pathogenesis and Genetics, Veterinary Laboratories Agency (Weybridge), New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, United Kingdom 2: Technology Transfer Unit, Veterinary Laboratories Agency (Weybridge), New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, United Kingdom 3: Veterinary Laboratories Agency (Luddington), Luddington, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 9SJ, United Kingdom

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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