Mad cow disease (BSE) has been a particular food safety concern for several years. Evidence suggests that cattle can contract BSE by eating animal proteins (processed slaughter waste). Wageningen Food Safety Research therefore inspects feed for the presence substances with animal origin.
Each year, we inspect approximately 2500 animal feed samples and animal feed ingredient samples for the presence of animal slaughter waste. A feed sample is prepared so that tiny pieces can be studied under a microscope. The structure of bone particles can often easily be identified and distinguished from plant material. The small cavities in mammal and bird bones differ from cavities in fish bones. Plant particles have another colour or are structured differently. The hairs of plants are brightly coloured in polarised light.
Wageningen Food Safety Research has developed a computer system which supports researchers during animal protein inspections. This system, ARIES (Animal Remains Identification and Evaluation System), leads a researcher along a decision tree, comparable to a plant identification key. A researcher can review what decisions were made at any point in time. It is also possible to bring up images which can help during identification.