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Identification of Meat Species in Pet Foods Using a Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Assay

By Tara A. Okuma, Rosalee S. Hellberg

Category Journal Articles

Product mislabeling, adulteration, and substitution are increasing concerns in highly processed foods, including pet foods. Although regulations exist for pet foods, there is currently a lack of information on the prevalence of pet food mislabeling. The objective of this study was to perform a market survey of pet foods and pet treats marketed for domestic canines and felines to identify meat species present as well as any instances of mislabeling. Fifty-two commercial products were collected from online and retail sources. DNA was extracted from each product in duplicate and tested for the presence of eight meat species (bovine, caprine, ovine, chicken, goose, turkey, porcine, and equine) using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with SYBR Green and species-specific primers. Of the 52 tested products, 31 were labeled correctly, 20 were potentially mislabeled, and 1 contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified. Chicken was the most common meat species found in the pet food products (n ¼ 51), and none of the products tested positive for horsemeat. In three cases of potential mislabeling, one or two meat species were substituted for other meat species, but major trends were not observed. While these results suggest the occurrence of pet food mislabeling, further studies are needed to determine the extent of mislabeling and identify points in the production chain where mislabeling occurs.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2015
Publication Title Food Control
Volume 50
Pages 9-17
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.foodcont.2014.08.017
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Nutrition
  3. open access
  4. pet foods
  5. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access