Growth Promoter Detection


Despite the European Union (EU) Directive 88/146/EEC banning the use of growth-promoting agents in beef production in the late 1980s, illegal use of these agents still persists. Use and abuse of growth promoters is an extremely lucrative business with substantial economic benefits resulting from the pronounced increase in muscle mass obtained and resulting feed efficiency. Within the EU mandatory monitoring of steroid abuse occurs in only approximately 0.05% of the total herd population and generally involves tests based on liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and gas chromatography spectrometry (GC-MS/MS). Developments in this area has resulted in a lowering of testing detection limit and consequently there has been increased use of illicit “hormone cocktails” and endogenous hormone treatment regimes. The use of natural hormones and low doses of compounds not only helps evasion of targeted residue testing but also leads to improved treatment efficacy as a consequence of synergistic actions of individual constituents. A need for improvements in the methodology by which the illegal use of hormones as growth promoting agents can be detected is clear and ASSET research activities are aimed at developing proteomic/metabolomic marker-based screening procedures to develop these new methods. The aims of this work are to develop the capability to identify animals which are highly suspicious of hormone treatment by low-cost high-throughput fingerprinting techniques based on proteomic or metabolomic biomarkers.


Proposed marker-based growth promoter screening methodology