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Mass Spectrometry-Based Immunoassay for the Quantification of Banned Ruminant Processed Animal Proteins in Vegetal Feeds

Steinhilber, A. E., Schmidt, F. F., Naboulsi, W., Planatscher, H., Niedzwiecka, A., Zagon, J., Braeuning, A., Lampen, A., Joos, T. O., Poetz, O. (2018).

Anal Chem. 2018 Mar 20;90(6):4135-4143. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b00120. Epub 2018 Mar 7.

The ban of processed animal proteins (PAPs) in feed for farmed animals introduced in 2001 was one of the main EU measures to control the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis. Currently, microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are the official methods for the detection of illegal PAPs in feed. However, the progressive release of the feed ban, recently with the legalization of nonruminant PAPs for the use in aquaculture, requires the development of alternative methods to determine the species origin and the source (legal or not). Additionally, discussions about the need for quantitative tests came up, particularly if the zero-tolerance-concept is replaced by introducing PAP thresholds. To address this issue, we developed and partially validated a multiplex mass spectrometry-based immunoassay to quantify ruminant specific peptides in vegetal cattle feed. The workflow comprises a new sample preparation procedure based on a tryptic digestion of PAPs in suspension, a subsequent immunoaffinity enrichment of the released peptides, and a LC-MS/MS-based analysis for peptide quantification using isotope labeled standard peptides. For the very first time, a mass spectrometry-based method is capable of detecting and quantifying illegal PAPs in animal feed over a concentration range of 4 orders of magnitude with a detection limit in the range of 0.1% to 1% (w/w).