The company claims that its new Qflex Kit is capable of rapidly detecting 14 different beta-agonists - potentially toxic veterinary drugs used as growth promoters.
"In order to prevent ingestion by consumers, the use of b-agonists as growth promoters in farm animals is prohibited in many countries." said Esa Stenberg, vice president and head of Biacore's food business unit.
"It is therefore essential for producers to have an efficient test available for rapid, routine detection. Our new, simple to use Qflex Kit provides an extremely sensitive assay with broad specificity.
"Users can have complete confidence in the results. No other solution enables so many different residues to be detected in a single assay. Indeed, one residue, zilpaterol, cannot be detected by any other commercial assay that we know of."
The issue of veterinary drugs entering the food chain is especially pertinent in the UK, where traces of a nitrofuran, a banned veterinary medicine, were discovered in organic chicken earlier this year. Up to 23 tonnes of the affected chicken had been distributed across the UK.
Biacore Q and Qflex Kits offer automated, label-free analysis with significant time saving and reduced risk of experimental errors as compared to traditional assays such as RIA and HPLC. Simple sample preparation procedures and automated assays replace elaborate, time-consuming protocols.
The format of Qflex kits gives the flexibility necessary for rapid method development with the reliability essential for routine assays. Other kits are already available for detection of drug residues, such as chloramphenicol, sulfonamides, ractopamine, streptomycin, sulfamethazine and sulfadiazine, and determination of vitamin content.
However, the discovery of excessive or illegal antibiotic traces is increasingly unusual within the UK's poultry industry. A National Surveillance Scheme analysis of 35,399 animal product samples in the United Kingdom last year showed that just 89 contained detectable residues of veterinary medicinal products at concentrations above the relevant maximum residue limit or action level.
This compares to the 102 positives in nearly 35,800 analyses in 2002. Overall, the results indicate that authorised uses of veterinary medicinal products did not result in residues of human health concern.
Nonetheless, Biacore's latest product launch shows that the food analysis market remains a growing sector. The company now offers a range of products to meet specific customer needs. All instruments utilise Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) technology as the basis for detection and monitoring of protein interactions.