Product quality, human health and well-being

Melamine in eggs, plasma and tissues of hens fed contaminated diets

A. Galloa1, T. Bertuzzia1, M. Battagliaa1, F. Masoeroa1, G. Pivaa1 and M. Moschinia1 c1

a1 Faculty of Agriculture, Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, via Emilia Parmense 84, 29122 Piacenza, Italy


A study was conducted to evaluate the excretion pattern of melamine from feed into eggs, plasma, kidney, liver and muscle of laying hens. In particular, 90 laying hens were randomly allocated to three dietary treatments and fed diets contaminated with melamine at a level of 2.5, 25 and 250 mg of melamine/kg of diet for T1, T2 and T3 groups, respectively. The diets were offered in six replicate boxes (five hens each) for 13 days. Eggs were collected from each group for melamine quantification on days 0, 1, 3, 6, 9 and 13. At the end of the experimental period, one hen per box was randomly selected and slaughtered to collect plasma, liver, kidney and muscle samples. During the experiment, feeding diets with increasing levels of melamine had no effect (P > 0.05) on weight gain, feed intake, egg production, egg weight and mortality of laying hens. The melamine in eggs increased from day 1 after melamine ingestion and reached a plateau between days 6 and 13 of melamine ingestion. At steady-state condition, the melamine egg concentrations increased (P < 0.01) with treatments, being 0.026, 0.352 and 4.631 mg/kg for T1, T2 and T3, respectively. Similarly, the carryover of melamine from feed to egg increased (P < 0.05) with the levels of melamine in the diets, varying from 0.50 to 0.70 and 0.84 for T1, T2 and T3, respectively. The melamine was detected in plasma of all tested groups, increasing (P < 0.01) with levels of melamine in the diets (0.030, 0.266 and 4.102 mg/l in T1, T2 and T3, respectively). Melamine was not detected in kidney, liver and muscle of hens fed T1. Except for kidney sampled in the T3, no melamine concentration higher than 2.5 mg/kg, representing the maximum allowable limit set by the US Food and Drug Administration and European Union for food and feeds, was measured. The melamine resulted higher in plasma and kidneys than in the liver and muscle both in T2 and T3. The results confirmed the presence of an excretion pattern of melamine from feed to eggs and tissues in laying hens.

(Received July 07 2011)

(Accepted November 17 2011)

(Online publication December 15 2011)


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