Testing for Hormones and Anabolic Steroids in Food and Feed Industries

Hormones and anabolics are often used in animal husbandry to increase growth or to produce lean meat. Estrogen mimicking hormones are also used to increase production of milk. However residues of these substances in food such as meat or milk provide a potential risk to consumers. The USFDA approves testosterone, progesterone and oestradiol for beef production. In the EU, hormones and anabolics are completely banned and their residues are routinely monitored.

(4) Pic 1_Androgen


Androgens are natural or synthetic steroid hormones that stimulate or control the development of male characteristics. The group of androgens include testosterone, methyl testosterone, 19-norethisterone, and trenbolone. If animals are treated with androgens, drug residues may remain in the animal’s meat and milk. Testosterone and methyl testosterone are similar steroid hormone used to boost meat production. Methyl testosterone is also used by fish farmers to reverse sex and obtain fast growing all male population. 19-norethisterone is comparable to testosterone but has less male characteristics. This is often used for calf fattening and in male pigs. Trenbolone is a xenobiotic, efficient anabolic steroid with strong androgenic activity. Genotoxic activity of this substance is suspected. This is used to increase muscle growth and is banned in the EU. Our test systems can reliably detect androgen residues.

(4) Pic 2_Estrogens


Estrogens (or oestrogens) are primary female sex hormones and play an important role in the regulation of the reproductive system, such as ovulation, fertilization, implantation of the embryo and lactation. They can be produced synthetically and are used as a medication. Some estrogens are used as steroids. Common estrogens are diethylstilbestrol, Estradiol, ethinylestradiol and zeranol. The agent zeranol (a-Zearalanol) is derived from the mycotoxin zearalenone. It is used to increase the food conversion of ruminants. Zeranol possess three times the estrogenic activity of zeralenone and is known to cause hypertension, reduced fertility and developmental disorder in humans. This compound is banned in the EU.

If animals are treated with estrogens, drug residues may remain in the animal’s meat and milk. Our reliable test systems can detect estrogen residues.

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Gestagens (also known as progestogens or progestagens) are female sex hormones and is a class of steroid hormones. They are sometimes used as growth promoters in livestock. When animals are treated with gestagens, drug residues may remain in the animal’s meat and milk. Types of gestagens are acetyl gestagens and melengestrol acetate (MLGA) gestagens, chlormadinone acetate (CMA) or medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) MLGA accumulates in fat 200 times more than in blood plasma. If given parenterally, the hormonal activity is 125 times that of progesterone. Melengestrol acetate (MLGA) is a licensed growth promoter in the US and Canada but banned in the EU.

(4) Pic 4_Β-Agonists


Β-Agonists are synthetic derivatives of catecholamines. It is used as a medication and for livestock improvement. Growth is accelerated and the meat fat ratio improves. Types of Β-Agonists include clenbuterol and ractopamine. When used as a fattening agent, clenbuterol is used at 5-10 times their usual dosages. Ractopamine reduces fat, increases daily weight gain and improves the feed conversion ratio. When Β-Agonists are used, drug residues remain in the meat and milk and are risk factors for consumers.


RIDASCREEN Microtiter Plate

RIDASCREEN is an ELISA technique for the quantification of hormones and anabolics. Each plate has 96 wells and are supplied in 12 strips of 8. It is a competitive ELISA and has a negative curve. The detection limit is far below the legal MRL, e.g. testerone has a legal limit of 0.1ppb whilst the RIDASCREEN has a MDL of 0.02 ppb with an incubation time of 2hrs 30min. The portfolio of RIDASCREEN test includes most of the hormones and anabolics described above.


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