Toward a new european threshold to discriminate illegally administered from naturally occurring thiouracil in livestock

Wauters, Jella; Vanden Bussche, Julie; Bizec, Bruno Le; Kiebooms, J.A.L.; Dervilly-Pinel, Gaud; Prevost, Stéphanie; Wozniak, Barbara; Sterk, S.S.; Grønningen, Dag; Kennedy, D.G.; Russell, Sandra; Delahaut, Philippe; Vanhaecke, Lynn


Thiouracil is a thyrostat inhibiting the thyroid function, resulting in fraudulent weight gain if applied in the fattening of livestock. The latter abuse is strictly forbidden and monitored in the European Union. Recently, endogenous sources of thiouracil were identified after frequently monitoring low-level thiouracil positive urine samples and a "recommend concentration" (RC) of 10 ∼g/L was suggested by the EURL to facilitate decision-making. However, the systematic occurrence of urine samples exceeding the RC led to demands for international surveys defining an epidemiologic threshold. Therefore, six European member states (France, Poland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, and Belgium) have shared their official thiouracil data (2010-2012) collected from bovines, porcines, and small livestock with 95 and 99% percentiles of 8.1 and 18.2 ∼g/L for bovines (n = 3894); 7.4 and 13.5 ∼g/L for porcines (n = 654); and 7.4 ∼g/L (95% only) for small livestock (n = 85), respectively. Bovine percentiles decreased with the animal age (nonadults had significantly higher levels for bovines), and higher levels were observed in male bovines compared to female bovines.