Skip to Main Content

Latest News

Advertisement
Advertise Here
April 8, 2011

Where's the (Drug-Free) Beef?

Proteomics: Changes in protein expression could uncover cattle treated illicitly with growth-promoting hormones

Laura Cassiday

Shutterstock
JUST SAY MOO Some beef producers give cows drugs to enhance their growth.
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Latest News



October 28, 2011

Speedy Homemade-Explosive Detector

Forensic Chemistry: A new method could increase the number of explosives detected by airport screeners.

Solar Panel Makers Cry Foul

Trade: U.S. companies complain of market dumping by China.

Novartis To Cut 2,000 Jobs

Layoffs follow similar moves by Amgen, AstraZeneca.

Nations Break Impasse On Waste

Environment: Ban to halt export of hazardous waste to developing world.

New Leader For Lawrence Livermore

Penrose (Parney) Albright will direct DOE national lab.

Hair Reveals Source Of People's Exposure To Mercury

Toxic Exposure: Mercury isotopes in human hair illuminate dietary and industrial sources.

Why The Long Fat?

Cancer Biochemistry: Mass spectrometry follows the metabolism of very long fatty acids in cancer cells.

Text Size A A

Although the European Union banned the use of growth-promoting agents in cattle in 1989, some beef producers still treat animals with the drugs illegally. Now researchers have developed a sensitive technique to detect beef from cows given growth-promoting agents (J. Proteome Res., DOI: 10.1021/pr101255c).

Some beef producers treat cattle with drugs such as steroids, β2-agonists, and corticosteroids to increase the animals' size. Scientists debate whether trace amounts of these growth-promoting drugs in beef can harm humans; indeed, in the U.S., some growth enhancers are legal and used widely. Therefore, European regulators must screen imported as well as domestically produced meat for the forbidden compounds.

Detecting growth promoters in meat isn't easy, says Giancarlo Biancotto, an analytical chemist at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Legnaro, Italy, because "classical analytical techniques often aren't sensitive enough." But because the drugs trigger strong biological responses in animals, Biancotto and colleagues wondered whether they could indirectly detect growth-promoting agents in beef by measuring changes in protein expression.

To answer this question, the researchers fed cattle commonly used growth enhancers, alone or in combination. Then they used a technique called two-dimensional differential in-gel electrophoresis to compare the levels of hundreds of proteins in the skeletal muscle of treated and untreated animals. With the help of mass spectrometry, the team identified 29 proteins that are expressed at different levels in control and drug-treated animals.

The researchers now plan to examine the levels of these proteins in beef samples from slaughterhouses, some of which may be contaminated with growth-promoting agents. A subset of these proteins could eventually form the basis for a tool to detect illicit growth-promoting drugs, Biancotto says.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Services & Tools

ACS Resources

ACS is the leading employment source for recruiting scientific professionals. ACS Careers and C&EN Classifieds provide employers direct access to scientific talent both in print and online. Jobseekers | Employers

» Join ACS

Join more than 161,000 professionals in the chemical sciences world-wide, as a member of the American Chemical Society.
» Join Now!