Researchers at RIKILT Wageningen UR have developed a test whereby the use of antibiotics becomes visible in the bones of broilers.
The researchers examined whether it is possible to distinguish between antibiotics-free broilers and broilers treated with antibiotics on the basis of the fluorescent properties of antibiotics. This test focuses on the antibiotic tetracycline. Broilers store residues of this antibiotic in their bones. The fluorescent properties of the antibiotic mean that its presence can be made visible simply by using a fluorescence microscope.
For therapeutic purposes only
A poultry farmer is only permitted to use antibiotics for therapeutic purposes and when prescribed by a veterinarian. Following such use, a legally defined delay must be observed before the broiler can be slaughtered. Despite these measures, monitoring bodies are detecting these antibiotics in poultry meat. Possible causes of this are that the delay before slaughter has not been observed accurately, or that the drug has been administered illegally as a growth stimulator.
Application in slaughterhouse and follow-up study
It may be possible in the future to use the RIKILT test in the slaughterhouse with the aid of a special fluorescent lamp and goggles. At present, RIKILT is carrying out a follow-up study, investigating the possibilities of applying this method in the bones of calves.