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Development and validation of innovative methods for traceability and authentication of animal proteins in food and feed (Animal-ID)


This third-party funded project is conducted in the framework of the BfR research program for authenticity of foods and products.

BMEL support program: Promotion of innovation

BLE grant number: 2816503514

Project homepage: -

Project description:

The authorities must be able to verify the zoological origin of animal-based foods during official inspections, especially if, owing to processing, the products can no longer be visually attributed to a particular animal species. This applies notably in the area of feed which in some cases must be processed under extreme conditions, such as great heat and high pressure. This type of processing makes it difficult for the supervisory authorities to analytically verify the authenticity of the feed or food. Using currently available methods, it is therefore often only possible to fulfil the legal requirements  in part or not at all. It is against this background that new analytical methods have become necessary.

As part of the project, various strategies for differently processed foods and feeds are pursued. In order to close the gaps in the currently available methods in the feed sector, the most realistic alternative is the use of mass spectrometry in combination with innovative peptide and protein enrichment methods. Compared to other methods, mass spectrometry has the advantage that it is up to ten times more sensitive. For less processed foods and feeds, immunological rapid tests are a good option. In contrast to current methods, they can be conducted on site without the need for specific expertise and a laboratory, and they only take about ten minutes. It is planned that in the course of the project, such rapid immunological tests shall be developed for the most important animal species used for meat products, such as cattle, pig, horse, sheep, goat, chicken, turkey, goose, duck, reindeer, elk, and deer.

Adulteration of animal-based foods not only has the potential to undermine the confidence of consumers, it can even pose a health risk. This is the case, for example, when feed gets into the food chain which is contaminated with proteins naturally produced in the body of the animal and are present in their harmful form called prions, as was the case with the transmission of mad cow disease BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). For consumer health protection, it is therefore vital that the authenticity of foods and feeds can be verified by analytical means. The reasons for the adulterations can be both illegal practices as well as inadvertent addition of non-declared animal components.

BfR parts of the project:

The project is coordinated by the BfR and the work of the National Reference Laboratory for Animal Protein in Feed  focuses on the development and validation of innovative methods for the traceability and authentication of animal protein in food and feed.

Project partners:

  • Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen, Germany
  • Institut für Produktqualität GmbH, Germany


Press releases

Date Title Keywords
Adulterated animal-based foods to become easier to detect in future analysis , food safety


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