In The Netherlands, all antibiotic treatments should be registered at the farm and in a central database. To enforce correct antibiotic use and registration, and to enforce prudent use of antibiotics, there is a need for methods that are able to detect antibiotic treatments. Ideally, such a method is able to detect antibiotic applications during the entire lifespan of an animal, including treatments administered during the first days of the animals’ lives. Monitoring tissue, as is common practice, only provides a limited window of opportunity, as residue levels in tissue soon drop below measurable quantities. The analysis of feathers proves to be a promising tool in this respect. Furthermore, a qualitative confirmatory method was developed for the analyses of six major groups of antibiotics in ground chicken feathers, aiming for a detection limit as low as reasonably possible. The method was validated according to Commission Decision 2002/657/EC. All compounds comply with the criteria and, as a matter of fact, 58% of the compounds could also be quantified according to regulations. Additionally, we demonstrated that a less laborious method, in which whole feathers were analyzed, proved successful in the detection of applied antibiotics. Most compounds could be detected at levels of 2 μg kg−1 or below with the exception of sulfachloropyridazine, tylosin, and tylvalosin. This demonstrates the effectiveness of feather analysis to detect antibiotic use to allow effective enforcement of antibiotic use and prevent the illegal, off-label, and nonregistered use of antibiotics.
Jansen, L. J. M., Bolck, Y. J. C., Rademaker, J., Zuidema, T., & Berendsen, B. J. A. (2017). The analysis of tetracyclines, quinolones, macrolides, lincosamides, pleuromutilins, and sulfonamides in chicken feathers using UHPLC-MS/MS in order to monitor antibiotic use in the poultry sector. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 409(21), 4927-4941. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-017-0445-0