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01 February 2006
31 January 2008



CRA-W/SPF project, coordinator


Since the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the European legislation on animal by-products in feed drastically limits the use of Processed Animal Proteins (PAPs). Moreover, it recommends the development of alternative methods able to detect and identify animal meals at species or group of species level such as Ruminants (European Regulations 999/2001, 1774/2002 et 1234/2003). Even if classical microscopy remains the only official method to detect animal ingredients in compound feeds, the technique shows its limitations for a complete taxonomic classification of animal particles. Moreover, classical microscopy is mainly based on bone detection and identification while evidencing muscles or any other animal tissue may also be essential to an efficient control. Results already obtained by the CRA-W in previous national (Project RCS N° S-6112 - "Detection and quantification of animal meals in feedingstuffs") and European projects (http://stratfeed.cra.wallonie.be) show the potential of both micro-spectroscopic techniques (Near infrared microscope – NIRM and NIR camera) and Real Time PCR. The project aims to develop an original methodology by combining the advantadges of the two techniques and by answering to the legal requirements, namely the detection and the determination of the animal origin up to species level even in the case of low contamination (down to 0.1% in weight) with animal particles from different tissues like bones, muscles,...


Micro-spectroscopic techniques (NIR microscope and NIR camera) are able to detect specifically meat and bone meal particles. They are non-destructive and therefore allow another type of analysis on the studied object. PCR is able to detect any DNA source coming from an animal origin even at very low level but some authorised ingredients such as milk powder, egg products, blood or fats can interfere. However, at the present time, PCR is the only technique able to determine which animal species is present in the sample. So the strategy to develop is : 1) to locate meat and bone particles by means of micro-spectroscopy and to isolate them 2) to transfer each particle in a well of PCR plate 3) to perform a PCR analysis on it in order to 4) to determine its species origin. This project aims also to evaluate the potential of Raman spectroscopy and of Fluorescence.

Description of tasks

Practically, the CRA-W is involved in the following tasks: 1.Optimise NIRM and NIR camera detection of meat and bone particles. 2.Develop prediction models based on NIR spectral data able to determine the particle’s origin up to the species. 3.Develop the protocol for the transfer of the particles from the spectroscopic analysis to the PCR. 4.Develop the Real Time PCR protocol able to analyse a single particle and determine its species origin.

Expected results

Thanks to this new methodology, it should be possible to detect the presence of animal proteins coming from meat and bone meals and to determine their genetic origin up to the species level without any interference with any other authorised products (fats and milk powders).


The CRA-W provides its expertise in the development of spectroscopic and molecular biology methods.


JRC-IRMM: Dr Christoph von Holst and Dr Ana Boix; AFSCA: Ir Jeroen Van Cutsem; UCL: Prof. Marc Meurens


  • CRA-W - Walloon Agricultural Research Centre
  • European Commission
  • SPF Public Health


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