Analytical strategy for the detection of antibiotic residues in sheep and goat’s milk

M. Carmen Beltrán, Rafael L. Althaus, Ana Molina, M. Isabel Berruga, M. Pilar Molina


The use of antibiotics to treat mastitis and other infectious diseases in dairy sheep and goats is a widespread practice nowadays that can, when not properly applied, result in the contamination of the milk supply. Spanish legislation establishes the control of the presence of antibiotic residues in sheep and goat’s milk using screening methods that detect, at least, beta-lactam drugs. Microbial inhibitor tests using Geobacillus stearothermophilus var. calidolactis and specific receptor-binding assays are most widely employed for this purpose. The detection rates of screening tests routinely used in Spain have been calculated considering the frequency of use of veterinary drugs commonly applied in ovine and caprine livestock to treat and prevent mastitis as well as the test sensitivity toward these substances at safety levels. In general, the use of a single test allows detecting 62.8-82.4% of the antibiotics employed. For sheep milk, the total detection range achieved with microbial tests was significantly higher than that reached with rapid receptor tests. However, no significant differences between the two types of methods were found when goat's milk was analysed. In both types of milk, the simultaneous use of two screening tests with a different analytical basis increases the total detection range significantly, reaching values ≥ 90% in some cases (81.5-90.1% for sheep and 84.7-92.6% for goats). However, the periodical use of screening tests able to detect quinolones, macrolides or aminoglycosides would be recommended to carry out more efficient screening and ensure the safety of milk and dairy products from sheep and goats.


antimicrobial agents; screening methods

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2015131-6522