Development of analytical methods and tools
Aside the official methods by light microscopy and PCR (for ruminant only), other alternative techniques may be used for the detection of PAPs in feed :
- PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)
- NIRM (Near Infrared Microscopy)
- Combined NIRM - PCR approach
These alternatives are however not yet official for the evident reason that most of these methods are still in development and hence not yet validated.
One of the tasks of the EURL-AP is precisely to contribute to the development of new methods of analysis and the improvement of the existing ones. This represents a challenge as feeds deal with a huge diversity of ingredients and compounds that may interfere with results interpretation: for example dairy products which are authorised in feed for bovines will provoke a positive reaction with bovine and ruminant probes by PCR but usually will not be visible by light microscopy.
The role of the EURL-AP is therefore also evaluating the potential of each analytical method.
Over the years numerous actions have been undertaken by the EURL-AP searchers for the development of methods.
- Development of new markers for the classical microscopic method for the detection of animal proteins in feed
- Build up of identification keys for Western European rodents hairs which are natural sources of contamination in feed
- Alternative light microscopic approaches (UV, DIC, DF, POL, Phase contrast)
- Development and validation of a new method for permanent microscopic slide preparation compatible with bone microstructural features
- Development of a robust quantification method requested for future partial lift of the total feed ban
- Development of a real time PCR method for the detection of animal proteins in feed
- Assessment and comparison of commercial immunoassay kit.
- Potential of HPLC for the determination of protein weights in PAPs
- Organisation of interlaboratory studies for method validation
As an integrated part of the development and research activities of the EURL-AP, other tools for scientific support are created. Those tools either serve the EURL-AP team and/or the NRL network.
Among the initiatives taken the most prominent ones are:
- Elaboration of a specific intranet platform for the NRL community towards a centralisation of the scientific services.
- Creation of an online micrographs collection for the NRL network and IAG members (over 800 pictures).
- The development of a feed sample database management software (SMS for Sample Management System) for a large collection of animal feeds or ingredients.
- Creation and extension of a sample bank with focus on all possible animal by-products used or potentially usable in feed production. This collection notably includes:
- Single species products (e.g. meat and bone meals of pork, bovine and ovine origin, fish meals prepared from salmon, herring,...)
- Samples of PAPs produced by different processes (temperature, pressure, time, chemical treatment)
- Samples of PAPs from different geographical origins