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Open Access Publications from the University of California

PCR and antibody methods: Research compares two cattle feed tests that detect bovine byproduct contaminants

  • Author(s): Sawyer, Mary M.
  • Smith, Wayne L.
  • Rensen, Gabriel J.
  • Osburn, Bennie I.
  • Cullor, James S.
  • et al.

Preventing the spread of mad cow disease through contaminated cattle feed is a major concern of beef and dairy producers, regulators and consumers around the world. Routine testing of cattle feeds for the presence of banned substances is a critical control point in assuring animal health and food safety. We compared the results of two test procedures (a real-time polymerase chain reaction [PCR] assay and a commercially available ruminant antibody detection kit) on five cattle rations spiked with bovine meat-and-bone meal, or with bovine dried blood. The real-time PCR consistently detected these contaminants at lower levels in each of these diverse cattle rations.

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