Evaluation of an immunobiosensor for the on-site testing of veterinary drug residues at an abattoir. Screening for sulfamethazine in pigs

G. Andrew Baxter, Mary C. O'Connor, Simon A. Haughey, Steven R. H. Crooks, Christopher T. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


A study was conducted to determine the feasibility of performing "on-site" screening for sulfamethazine (SMT), at an abattoir, using a rapid immunobiosensor method. This involved transfer of the biosensor technology and an assay developed in the laboratory, to the cold, humid conditions of a modern pig-processing factory. A pre-determined threshold limit of 0.4 microgram ml-1 SMT in bile was used to identify the likelihood that corresponding tissue samples contained SMT concentrations in excess of the European maximum permissible residue limit of 0.1 mg kg-1. Bile samples containing SMT concentrations above the threshold limit were deemed positive and the corresponding kidney and muscle samples were sent to the laboratory for HPLC analysis. The robustness of the biosensor instrumentation in the harsh operating conditions was monitored throughout the project. The performance of the assay, on-site, was assessed by the regular inclusion of QA samples and by the submission of control 'SMT-positive' pigs to the abattoir. Sampling procedures, identification and traceability were also under scrutiny. During the project, 337 (9.35%) of the total kill were tested for SMT residues, representing 75% of all producers submitting pigs for slaughter. Twelve animals, including the ten controls, gave positive bile results. HPLC analysis confirmed SMT residues in all 12 kidneys (11 in excess of the permissible level). Ten muscle samples also contained violative SMT levels. Throughout the project, the biosensor performed reliably, with no adverse reaction of any mechanical or electrical components. The SMT assay also performed reliably. This is the first report of a biosensor being used for 'on-site' drug screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1318
Number of pages4
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Drug Residues
  • Food Contamination
  • Humans
  • Meat
  • Sulfamethazine
  • Swine
  • Journal Article

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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