08 December 2014

Infrared spectrometry in animal feed testing

The diversity of plant protein supply sources available to our farms necessitates faster, cheaper tools to prevent contamination and detect fraud.

In cattle farming, good health depends greatly on the use of wholesome, good quality feed. The rising cost of most raw materials in current use has prompted a search for new raw material sources for animal feed. Such new sources may be new raw materials and/or existing raw materials obtained from new geographical areas. One of the aims of the QSAFFE project, funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, is to provide better tools for testing these new feed sources and detecting any fraud or contamination.


CRA-W has contributed by developing infrared spectroscopic methods for detecting contaminants and ensuring the traceability of raw materials. Two sets of problems were studied. The first of these concerned detecting soya flour adulterated with melamine to increase the protein content. Soya contamination simulations with incoming lorries were performed in cooperation with PROVIMI, a partner on the project.The research showed the ability of near infrared spectroscopy to detect soya contamination by melamine and its derivatives such as cyanuric acid. These methods have the advantage of being rapid, non-destructive, easy to use and environmentally sound. In addition, they permit on-line application and simultaneous detection of several contaminants and/or additives, either known or unknown. The second case concerned authenticating the botanical and industrial origin of wheat or maize draff from bioethanol production, used as an alternative protein source. The aim was to be able to rapidly trace the origin of the draff supply. This work showed the potential of mid-infrared spectrometry in distinguishing draff sources based on the fatty acid composition after in situ extraction of the fat.


As part of this project CRA-W has thus contributed to devising new strategies for guaranteeing the quality of the various plant protein supply sources and controlling the risks of deliberate or inadvertent contamination of the animal feed chain, both at laboratory level and at arrival of raw materials at ports and at processors.

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