Q&A with Randox Testing Services: All Things Workplace Drug & Alcohol Testing
At Randox Testing Services, we are always trying to think of new ways to get the message across about the positive impact workplace drug & alcohol testing can have on an organisation. So, we decided to speak with one of our colleagues; Simon Tibbo, who is regularly engaging with companies about how to be proactive in minimising the risks of substance misuse.
Read below to find out what he had to say.
From your experience and knowledge, what industries are currently implementing testing programmes?
Apart from the finance industry, I’ve personally seen testing programmes within almost all business sectors, from the obvious, safety critical industries, Rail Track, Maritime, Construction, Logistics, all the way through to manufacturing firms, retail outlets, and even predominantly clerical companies. If a company has a workplace substance misuse policy and are looking to satisfactorily enforce the terms within, they will be engaged with a service provider, such as Randox, to properly support the policy.
What are, in your opinion, the barriers that companies face when trying to implement working drug & alcohol testing?
The introduction of a substance misuse policy to an already existing ‘company handbook’ can be a challenge, especially if the work-force has been established for some time. People don’t tend to like change, especially within the workplace. Unions can sometimes be unwelcoming to the idea of random testing and will often look to restrict the scope of testing or the policy itself. I’d say that each industry/company will likely meet its own barriers whilst developing and implementing a policy, and some may well be unique to the individual circumstances. Often, customers may implement an amnesty period prior to the commencement of a drug testing programme. This gives employees the opportunity to come forward and declare if they have a substance misuse issue which they can address together with their employer without sanctions.
Why has there been a delay in some companies developing workplace policies that directly relate to substance misuse?
There could be many reasons as to why a company hasn’t implemented a policy, but I’d expect somewhere near the top of that list would be either the assumption there isn’t a substance misuse issue within the business/industry, the worry that a substance misuse issue within the business/industry is highlighted by the introduction of a policy, and therefore creating more problems than its seen to be solving, or even that a company is simply unaware the solution is available and beneficial.
How important within a policy is it that a company clearly outlines what is expected of an employee, and the consequences of substance misuse?
Very! A policy needs to be clear and concise in its structure and procedures. If you aren’t explaining the terms or the consequences you could potentially end up with a problematic HR process and unresolvable tribunal cases. If an employee has sight of a straightforward policy they will know what to expect if the terms are breached, not to mention enforcing it should be equally as straightforward. It is also important to state why the policy is in place – i.e. to protect the workforce, the public and the company reputation.
Is it important to state cut-offs in substance misuse policies?
For alcohol, yes, most certainly. For drugs, not so much. An alcohol test with a home office approved breathalyser will provide an evidential result, which can be directly related to a ‘site cut-off’ (in the same manner as the existence of a road legal limit). Workplace drug testing should adhere to specific guidelines set-out by the EWDTS (European Workplace Drug Testing Society) in not just it’s procedures, but also its expected substance cut-offs. The cut-offs differ between substances so it’s not quite as straightforward. My suggestion would always be, if you feel it necessary to include drug cut-off information, refer to the EWDTS guidelines, they’re available to download on the EWDTS website if anyone needs sight, but ensure your provider is working to them and don’t go into full details, it’ll serve only to add unnecessary bulk to what should ideally be a streamlined policy.
How effective has workplace testing been in helping companies reduce the risk of drug & alcohol use?
From personal experience I can tell you, I’ve seen companies implement a policy/testing practice due to an awareness of substance misuse, only to reduce the volume of testing over time as the approach has proved successful in reducing or eradicating the specific problem. I’d say that’s a testament to implementing a random testing practice, it sends a sensible message in a fair and balanced manner, which ultimately gets results. If it’s done right, it’s going to be beneficial, even if it’s not particularly well received at its inception. Other examples where testing volume has been scaled back have led to an increase in the rates of positives demonstrating that an active testing programme is a deterrent to substance misuse.
Going forward, what industries do you see adopting a more proactive approach in use of substance misuse testing?
Likely most industries, every company has a duty of care to staff, contractors, visitors and/or the public. There will always be industries that don’t agree, don’t want to uncover issues or don’t believe they exist, but it’s the people that matter and the more that’s done to promote safety, welfare and overall good practice, the more industries will settle to the idea.
About Randox Testing Services
Randox Testing Services offer a wide range of products and services for the testing of illicit substances. We can craft customised packages to suit the needs of our customers, no matter what the industry.
Our expertise and experience working within this industry allow us to provide a range of testing solutions that will impact the risk of substance use in the workplace. With an extensive collection network and quality products, we can meet the needs of your business.
To find out more, contact us:
Phone: +44 (0) 28 9442 2413
Seafood is one of the most important exports in India with its shrimp being a staple food in many countries worldwide. However, 2017 and 2018 saw 27 shipments of shrimp refused entry into the US by the FDA. This was followed closely in January 2019, when 26 lines were refused due to the presence of two banned antibiotics, nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.
With Indian shrimp accounting for around one third of the countries seafood exports, India has expressed its concern over the rejections. It responded by calling the tests on the products ‘too stringent’.
The global shrimp industry is estimated to be worth around $30 billion and India’s market share is estimated at 13% in value terms.
Dr. Ramraj, President of the All Indian Shrimp Hatcheries Association has stated, “some of the metabolites in shrimp and crustacean shells are known to mimic antibiotics and therefore could give false results”.
The use of antibiotics in shrimp farming in India is banned. Madhusudano Rao, Principal scientist at India’s Central Institute of Fisheries Technology has said, “All shrimp hatchery operators and shrimp farmers and advised to use only these antibiotic- free inputs during shrimp farming”.
Randox Food Diagnostics offer the most comprehensive range of ELISA and Biochip tests currently on the market, specifically designed to identify and detect the smallest traces of the most prevalent antibiotics used in seafood, including nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.
Respiratory tract infection (RTI) is defined as any infectious disease of the upper or lower respiratory tract. Some infections can affect the sinuses, throat, airways or lungs.1 Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) include the common cold, laryngitis, pharyngitis/tonsillitis, acute rhinitis, acute rhinosinusitis and acute otitis media.2Whereas lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) include acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia and tracheitis.2
Every five minutes someone dies from lung disease in the UK lung disease and are responsible for more than 700,000 hospital admissions and over 6 million inpatient bed-days in the UK each year. (BLF)3
The typical symptoms of respiratory tract infections include the following:4
- a cough – you may bring up mucus (phlegm)
- a stuffy or runny nose
- a sore throat
- muscle aches
- breathlessness, tight chest or wheezing
- a high temperature (fever)
- feeling generally unwell
The lungs are a vital organ to the human body as they keep us alive and functioning. Our bodies are designed to protect the lungs, keeping dirt and germs at bay. There are many tips on how to keep your lungs healthy to reduce the risk of developing lung disease or respiratory tract infections:
One of the main advices to reduce any sort of lung disease is to not smoke. Smoking cigarettes are the major cause of lung disease. Research have stated there is one in five deaths annually or 1,3000 deaths every day because of smoking.5 On average, smokers would have a shorter life span and die 10 years earlier. Cigarettes cause the air passages to narrow making breathing difficult.6 Overtime it will destroy the lung tissue which can result long-term illness such as cancer. It is also important to avoid second-hand smoking as even though the person isn’t physically smoking a cigarette they can still inhale the toxic chemicals from being near a smoker.
Minimize exposure to outdoor air pollution can improve lung health because certain air pollution can affect the lungs making it more difficult to breathe.6 Getting involved in regular exercise will strengthen the lungs and keep them healthy.
An important key point to prevent lung disease is to prevent infection. A simple cold can cause serious complications to the lungs. It is essential to take care of your hygiene by washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water to get rid of any bacteria. Avoid crowds during flu season and get vaccinated every year against influenzas. Finally, regular healthcare check-ups is essential to allow early diagnosis and treatment if needed.
Randox Clinical Laboratory Services (RCLS), provides a clinical laboratory service designed to meet the time sensitive, bespoke requirements of research and clinical projects globally. We provide a trusted and checked testing service as all our clinical laboratories hold numerous accreditation’s ensuring your patient samples are tested to the highest standard.
If your laboratory is outsourcing Respiratory testing, Randox Clinical Laboratory Services offers the Respiratory Multiplex Array with the ability to test your patient samples for you!
We detect 22 bacterial and viral pathogens from a single sample! Our experienced project management teams are available to provide support and guidance from initial biomarker selection through to the design of a comprehensive results data package to deliver against your project aims and timelines while you save money, time and labour.
The Evidence Investigator is a compact, semi-automated benchtop analyser which is renowned for its versatility, robustness and effective reporting methods. The Evidence Investigator has offered efficient and comprehensive testing in a wide range of laboratory settings for many years including, clinical diagnostics, molecular, research, toxicology and food diagnostics.
The Evidence Investigator is the perfect fit for medium throughput laboratories seeking maximum use of bench space and can process up to 44 results from a single sample, with a maximum throughput of up to 2376 tests per hour.
It is extremely well equipped to provide reliable and accurate results because results are generated using Charge Coupled Device (CCD) camera, which quantifies chemiluminescent light. The light then measures the degree of binding between the sample and specific biochip bound ligands. The Evidence Investigator image processing software translates light signal generated from chemiluminescent reactions into analyte concentrations which removes the need for any manual processing of data.
Our molecular product range offers diagnostic, prognostic and predictive solutions across a variety of disease areas including sexually transmitted infection (STI), respiratory tract infection, colorectal cancer, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Additionally, we can provide a wide range of assay formats including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) genotyping, pathogen detection and mutation detection. The technology allows simultaneous detection of multiple analytes from a single sample for efficient and cost-effective testing.
STI and Respiratory Arrays
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) affect more than 1 million people every day and each year 500 million new cases of STIs occur.1 Therefore, it is vital for early and accurate detection. Randox’s Sexually Transmitted Infections Multiplex Array simultaneously detects 10 bacterial, viral and protozoan including primary, secondary and asymptomatic co-infection for a complete infection profile. The assay is based on a combination of multiplex PCR and biochip array hybridisation. Innovative PCR priming technology permits high discrimination between multiple targets.
Respiratory tract infections are caused by many viral and bacterial pathogens and are the second most common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.2 The Respiratory Multiplex Array is the most comprehensive screening test for infections of both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, simultaneously detecting 22 bacterial and viral pathogens from a single sputum lavage or nasopharyngeal sample.
Both arrays detect the most common and frequently requested infections in sexual and respiratory health. These comprehensive, highly sensitive and specific tests enable identification of co-infections simultaneously, often in asymptomatic patients and enable antibiotic stewardship.
KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA Array and Familial Hypercholesterolemia Arrays I & II
The colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is: about 1 in 22 (4.49%) for men and 1 in 24 (4.15%) for women.3 The KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA Array simultaneously detects 20 point mutations within the KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA genes. The assay is validated for use with the DNA extracted from fresh/frozen and formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue. The array is CE marked for routine clinical use.
Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic disorder of lipoprotein metabolism. 4It is the most common autosomal dominant, or inherited disease and affects the plasma clearance of LDL-cholesterol, resulting in premature onset of cardiovascular disease and higher mortality risk.5 Early diagnosis is crucial as by the time the FH sufferer enters early adulthood they will have accumulated >20 years of continuous exposure to build up of fatty or lipid masses in the arterial walls and are at the hundred-fold greater risk of a heart attack than other young people. The Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) Arrays I & II are rapid, simple and accurate detection of 40 FH-causing mutations within the LDLR ApoB and PCSK9 genes.
These unique biochip assays permit high discrimination between multiple targets in several genes with a rapid turnaround time (3 hours). The arrays enable detection of the most frequently occurring mutations known to cause disease (FH) and adversely affect patient treatment (KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA). A unique primer set is designed for each target which will hybridise to a complimentary oligo-nucleotide probe spotted on a biochip discrete test region (DTR).
Cardiovascular Risk Prediction Array
Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world and its prevention is a core activity for public health systems worldwide.6 Randox have the Cardiac Risk Prediction Array which will allow for 19 SNPs to be genotyped simultaneously, which incorporate a test to identify patients predisposed to statin-induced myopathy.
This array identifies individuals with a genetic predisposition to coronary heart disease (CHD). The innovative multiplex primers are designed to discriminate DNA sequences which differ only at one base.
For more information on our Evidence Series or Molecular range of Assays, contact us at email@example.com
Randox Clinical Laboratories Service (RCLS) has been built on 35 years of Randox Laboratories experience. The aim of our RCLS team is to meet the time sensitive, custom-made requirements of research and clinical projects. They specialize in biomarker and multiplex testing to provide full laboratory services to aid the project aims and timelines whilst saving time and money. Currently, there are four laboratories across the UK located in Liverpool, London, Holywood and the Randox Science Park in Antrim where knowledgeable and proficient teams are situated and are available accordingly to provide support and guidance.
Continuing with National Heart Month, RCLS would like to take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of taking care of your hearts health. (WHO) highlighted Ischemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers. An estimated 17 million people die of cardiovascular disease particularly heart attacks and strokes every year.1
Lipoprotein (a) which is also known as Lp(a) consists of two protein molecules, apolipoprotein (a) or apo(a). It is a large lipoprotein particle made by the liver. The Apo(a) particle is a very sticky protein particle, thought to be involved in the clotting system and its addition can be likened to adding a patch of Velcro on to a normal LDL particle. 2 Having some cholesterol and Lp(a) in your blood is normal however, high levels of LDL cholesterol would increase your risk of having some serious heart implications.
It has been highlighted in recent research that blood levels of Lp(a) could be an important indication as it is currently the strongest inherited risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease and stroke. Globally, one in five people have high levels of Lp(a) greater than 50mg 3. As a result, gradually narrow the arteries, limiting blood supply to the brain, heart kidney, legs and can also increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
High Lp(a) can also be related to other common risks factors of cardiovascular diseases for example, smoking, diet, diabetes, high blood pressure and lack of exercise. Therefore, it is possible that those who appear “healthy” can have high Lp(a) in their genes and still be at high risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The Lipoprotein(a) Foundation strongly emphasized that the Lp(a) test would be advised if you have the following:
- If there is a family who has history with cardiovascular disease including stroke, heart attack, circulation problems in the legs and/or narrowing of the aorta, at a young age. If someone in your family has high Lp(a), their children have a 50/50 chance inheriting it.
- Stroke or heart attack are classical risk factors including high LDL-cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and smoking have been eliminated
- High levels of LDL-cholesterol following treatment with statins or other LDL lowering medications
Randox Clinical Laboratory Services offer you our Lipoprotein (a) assay as well as our variety of analysers across all RCLS laboratories including our RX Series and Evidence Series as well as third party analysers ensuring the testing abilities are diverse. The Randox Lp(a) assay is one of the only methodologies on the market that detects the non-variable part of the Lp(a) molecule providing accurate and consistent results.
If you would like more information on RCLS please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Randox Testing Services are delighted to announce that we will be attending the Northern Ireland Construction Expo. Titanic Exhibition Centre will be the venue for the event, taking place on 13th February.
The NI Construction Expo brings together over 2000 construction companies, developers, policy makers, project owners and a plethora of other organisations, to provide an environment of debate, further knowledge in the design, construction and management of Northern Ireland’s buildings, infrastructure and industrial projects.
Attending the event will be our Senior Business Development Executive David O’Regan and our Business Development Executive Jim Windsor. Both have many years’ experience in workplace drug and alcohol testing and they will be more than happy to answer any questions you have regarding implementing a workplace testing policy.
Our Sales Executive Jim Windsor will be speaking at the event, providing those in attendance how drug & alcohol testing in the construction industry can have a positive impact on a business in this safety-critical environment.
If you would like to arrange a meeting with our team, please contact email@example.com. We will be exhibiting at stand B11B, make sure you stop by and have a chat to our team for any drug & alcohol testing related queries you may have.
Randox Testing Services
Randox Testing Services is part of the Randox Laboratories group, a global market leader in the diagnostics industry with over 35 years’ experience. Founded in 1982 by current Managing Director, Dr Peter FitzGerald CBE FREng, Randox is dedicated to accurate and sensitive sample testing. The ethos within Randox is to produce quality products, supported by continual investment in research and development.
Randox Testing Services is a specialist in the drug and alcohol testing industry. Our expertise is relied upon by a range of leading safety-critical companies across the UK, Ireland and internationally, as well as the medico-legal sector.
Visit our website today for more information:
Medico-legal Testing: https://www.randoxtestingservices.com/medico-legal-testing/
Private Individuals: https://www.randoxtestingservices.com/private-individuals/
Phone: +44 (0) 161 741 2760
At Randox Testing Services we utilise discreet and non-invasive methods of drug & alcohol testing for comfort and fast sample collection. Offering a choice of a urine test, hair drug test, saliva drug test or a combination of tests, our drug testing methods ensure the possibility for short-term and long-term drug abuse profiling. With different drug testing methods having different windows of detection, we offer advice on which methods to utilise depending upon your company’s drug testing requirements, ensuring the best method or combination of methods is chosen to ensure all your testing needs are fulfilled.
Below we will provide a breakdown of each sample type and accompanying detection windows for the presence of illicit substances.
Urine – Drug & Alcohol Testing
Urine is the most common sample type for drug & alcohol testing. Simple and practical to obtain, it offers short-term drug abuse profiling. It is considered non-intrusive and sample collection is not observed.
Drugs: 4 hours – 8 days (30 days for regular cannabis users)
Alcohol: <12 hours
Oral Fluid – Drug Testing
Oral fluid testing analyses a saliva sample for parent drugs and their metabolites. Providing analysis of short-term drug abuse, an oral fluid test is used for with-cause testing and post-incident testing, with results detectable 30-60 minutes after ingestion.
Drugs: 24 hours – 48 hours after consumption (drug dependent)
Breath – Alcohol Testing
Breath can be tested for alcohol using handheld devices which provide immediate results. These devices are specific to alcohol and can gauge blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring deep lung air. This type of testing can accurately determine whether a person has recently consumed alcohol or is currently over the legal or pre-determined limit.
Hair – Drug Testing
A hair drugs test offers a longer window of detection than alternative testing and provides a detailed month-on-month view of overall picture of drug use. This can highlight trends of drug use, suggest abstinence or show evidence of use depending on the length of the hair sample. Our hair testing services are tailored to meet the specific needs of our customers.
Typically, up to 90 days using a 3cm sample (1cm of head hair = 1-month detection).
Body hair can be used to provide extended window of up to 1 year
Randox Testing Services
At Randox Testing Services we are committed to improving the safety of workplaces who may be affected by drug & alcohol consumption. We offer a wide range of quality products designed to test for illegal substances quickly and efficiently, ensuring minimal disruption in your workplace.
To find out more about sample types and how they are utilised in workplace testing programs, click this link: http://bit.ly/RTS-samp
For more information on the different drugs we currently test for, click: http://bit.ly/RTS-drugstest
If you would like to find out more about our drug & alcohol testing programs, contact us today to speak to one of our experience business development executives.
Phone: +44 (0) 28 9445 1011
A hair drugs test offers a longer window of detection than alternative testing and provides a detailed month-on-month view and an overall picture of drug use. This can highlight trends of drug use, suggest abstinence or show evidence of use depending on the length of the hair sample.
When a drug is taken it is absorbed into the blood stream and circulated around the body. As a result, it is incorporated into the hair follicle meaning that as the hair grows, drugs are transferred into the hair strand. It can take up to 2 weeks for drug components to enter the hair and therefore analysis of a 3cm sample is recommended.
Randox Testing Services offer a combined analysis for hair alcohol testing as an aid in the determination of chronic excessive alcohol consumption. A combination test of alcohol markers ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) help provide evidence to assess chronic excessive alcohol consumption but cannot be used to demonstrate abstinence of alcohol consumption.
This testing method is commonly used by employers for pre-employment screening which is an increasingly common type of workplace drug and alcohol testing. It forms an essential part of a company’s recruitment process. Hair testing is also heavily used in substance abuse assessment in child protection cases.
Body hair can be used to provide an extended window of up to 1 year of drug use.
Randox Testing Services
At Randox Testing Services we provide drug and alcohol testing to all professional bodies within the medico-legal sector and all workplaces from any industry. Through utilising innovative multiplex drug and alcohol screening methods as well as LC/GC mass spectrometry confirmatory analysis our complete service guarantees reliable and accurate results.
Our hair drug test along with all other testing services are flexible and can be tailored to our customer needs with a choice of testing methods. We offer a comprehensive drugs of abuse test menu and our service also includes expert witness reporting where applicable.
To get in touch with one of our experts about hair drug testing contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 161 741 2760.
Figures released by the Home Office from the Crime Survey of England and Wales for 2017/2018 showed an 8.4 percent rise in 16-24 year olds using Class A drugs in the last year, compared to 7 percent in 2016/2017. As drugs are becoming more readily available due to the Dark Web, mobile phones and drug gangs, a broader network of distribution has been established and the price of cocaine has fallen.
Cocaine is a strong stimulant that comes in a powder (known as coke), freebase or crack form. With short lived effects, cocaine temporarily speeds up the mind and body. Freebase is a powder cocaine that has been prepared for smoking, whilst crack cocaine comes in a rock form. As both forms of cocaine can be smoked, they reach the brain quicker and have a stronger effect than powder cocaine. Injecting any form of the drug has serious risks including, damaged veins and the spread of blood-borne viruses, such as HIV and Hepatitis C. High doses of cocaine can cause the body temperature to rise, resulting in convulsions, a heart attack and heart failure.
The Telegraph recently reported that the fall in cocaine prices has now led to the highest number of young people using Class A drugs in over a decade, a rise from 4.8 percent in 2012/2013. The United Nation’s 2018 World Drug Report states that the street price for a gram of cocaine in the UK in 2016 was £41, the cheapest figure documented at the time since 1990. Compare this to cocaine prices in 2007 when it was £69 per gram.
“Our young people’s services have seen a significant rise in the use of Class A drugs”. Yasmin Batliwala, chair of London based drug and alcohol treatment charity WDP commented on the issue, “The primary drug of choice has always been alcohol, as well as cannabis, but certainly in the last two or more years the use of Class A drugs has increased substantially.” When cocaine and alcohol have been mixed it can cause particularly dangerous side effects and produce a toxic chemical called cocaethylene.
We have the Solution!
Randox Toxicology’s universally available patented Biochip Array Technology boasts cutting-edge multiplex testing capabilities, providing rapid and accurate drug detection from a single sample. Offering excellent cross-reactivity and unrivalled limits of detection, Biochip Array Technology’s intra and inter assay precision is typically <10% giving excellent correlation with confirmatory methods.
Persistently staying ahead of the ever-changing trends, Randox Toxicology are first to market with a range of tests for drugs of abuse, including the cocaine metabolite Benzoylecgonine (BZG). Utilising our Biochip Array Technology, Randox Toxicology’s DoA I, DoA I+, DoA ULTRA/DUID, DoA Evolution and DoA MultiSTAT panels all detect Benzoylecgonine.
Built on a foundation of continuous innovation, our research and development team continue to advance the future of toxicology through pioneering technology and novel tests. Offering the most advanced screening technology on the market, Randox Toxicology has transformed the landscape of drugs of abuse testing forever.
The global meat industry is a multi-billion-dollar business contributing over $85 billion to the US economy alone annually. Globally it is valued at $800 billion and as such, it is one of the biggest industries in the world.
With its already strong position and an ever growing demand for meat products the market shows no sign of slowing down. There are continued demands set on producers to provide not only more meat, but meat at a higher quality. Public awareness on issues such as drug residues, animal rights, food safety and antibiotic resistance is on the rise and as such producers and processors are more and more required to meet stringent requirements.
With the increasing demand on quantity and quality the industry faces many challenges and one the key areas of interest in this production chain is the monitoring of residues.
Residues in food relates to the residual amount of a particular compound either administered to an animal as a veterinary treatment or a naturally occurring compound present in food for human consumption.
There are a number of potential issues that can arise from contaminated feed and it is important for producers to ensure that animal feed has little or no trace of residues of mycotoxins, growth promoters or veterinary drugs.
Veterinary drugs are often added to feed to be used as a method of treating livestock, producers therefore must be sure of the dosage to ensure that withdrawal periods are correctly adhered to. Mycotoxins may also be present in feed due to a number of environmental factors, this can have a negative impact of the livestock.
The Mycotoxin Threat
Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by fungi, commonly known as moulds, which can have a harmful effect on humans and livestock. These moulds are of interest to producers because they have the potential for significant economic losses due to how they impact human health, animal productivity and international trading.
Mycotoxins can be present in a wide variety of foods and feeds and are a particular threat in areas with climates of high temperature and humidity. They can enter the food or feed chain through contaminated crops, in particular cereals, poultry meat and kidneys, pig kidneys and pork sausages. Contamination may also occur post-harvest during storage, transport, and processing stages of the food or feed supply chain.
The establishment of mycotoxin limits and regulations have been set by multiple food agencies worldwide. For example the EU 2002-32 Directive sets maximum permitted levels (MPLs) for substances that are present in, or on, animal feed that have the potential to pose danger to animal or human health, to the environment, or could have an undesirable affect to livestock production.
One type of livestock that can be significantly impacted by mycotoxins are pigs. Pig feed contaminated with mycotoxins can cause serious risks to pig health.
For example, Aflatoxins consumed by swine can expose non-clinical characteristics with low level exposure (20 to 200 ppb), inducing symptoms displayed such as feed avoidance, gastrointestinal disturbances, paleness and slower growth. It can also suppress the immune system and cause young piglets to become more susceptible to bacterial, viral or parasitic diseases. With prolonged exposure causing a greater risk of cancer, liver damage and jaundice. High concentrations of aflatoxin (1,000 to 5,000 ppb) result in acute effects, including death. It is a genotoxic carcinogen and suitably its levels have been set as low as realistically possible in complete feeding stuffs for pigs and poultry with a maximum content value of 0.02.
Zearalenone is another mycotoxin that can have a negative impact on livestock. Produced by a strain of Fusarium graminearum it has been listed under the Directive with a guidance value. It has an estrogeneous action and is significantly toxic to the reproductive system of animals with the potential to cause rectal and vaginal prolapses in gilts (young sows). Zearalenone has been allocated a suggested guidance value of 0.1ppm in complementary and complete feeding stuffs for piglets and gilts and 0.25ppm in feedstuffs for sows and fattening pigs.
With the risk from multiple Mycotoxins in animal feed it is important to be able to detect dangerous levels of each listed in the EU Directive in order to reduce instances of damage to animal health.
Growth promoters are often used in the meat industry to increase yield of livestock, an important tool considering the increased demand on quantity from the food chain. Some of these growth promoters however are known to have a negative impact on both animal and human health.
The presence of anabolic steroids including beta agonists such as Clenbuterol and Ractopamine, as well as other veterinary drugs is under a strict monitoring program in meat and animal feed to prevent these negative impacts.
Growth promoting drugs are used to induce weight but can have various health concerns such as such as hospitalisation with reversible symptoms of increased heart rate, muscular tremors, headache, nausea, fever, and chills.
The potential human health risks highlight the importance of complete food safety testing before a food product reaches the public.
Due to the nature of the conditions livestock is generally kept in, there is a high potential for infection and spread of viruses. Producers need to be aware and proactive in treating any veterinary disease that arises.
One such disease that can be an issue is coccidiosis which is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract. This disease can be spread by contact with infected faeces, or the ingestion of infected tissues by other animals. Coccisiostats are potent drugs which are widely used within veterinary practice to treat coccidiosis, mainly in feed additives. Chickens are susceptible to at least 11 species of coccidia that causes coccidiosis therefore creating an importance to treat for. Coccisiostat residues that occur in high levels within food for human consumption can be unsafe and can have negative effects on pre-existing coronary conditions/diseases. These residues can pass through the meat tissue and eggs.
With a variety of potential residues to be detected and a need for accurate results many producers are using Randox Food Diagnostics technology to carry out sample analysis.
With the development of the patented Biochip Array Technology Randox have consolidated the testing of multiple residues down to one sample which means time and cost saving for the meat industry. For example, with one Biochip a meat producer’s laboratory could test for 9 different growth promoter residues.
The technology centres on the Biochip, a 9mm2 ceramic chip which acts as the reaction well where samples are placed, requiring little technical expertise for preparation. Each chip is spotted with the antibodies required to detect the individual analytes being tested for and can accommodate up to 43 analytes. Food laboratories can then detect 43 different residues with one test.
The biochip works on the Evidence Investigator (Semi-Automated) and Evidence MultiSTAT(Automated) analysers. These analysers are used as the imaging stations for the biochips. Each spotted test site sends out a chemiluminescent signal which is detected by the analyser, processed, quantified and validated by the instrument software.
With a simple process, fast method and trusted results many of the world’s top meat producers are investing in Biochip Array Technology to ensure the safety and quality of their products.
For more information please contact us at: email@example.com.