Antibiotic residues in foods pose a serious threat to public health. The Nitrofuran class of broad spectrum antibiotics (Furaltadone, Furazolidone, Nitrofurantoin, Nitrofurazone and Nifursol) are commonly used in food producing animals. Their potential for harmful effects on human health, specifically carcinogenicity, has led to bans on their use in food producing animals in many countries including the US, Canada, and the EU. These countries have also imposed bans on all imported foods containing Nitrofuran residues. The monitoring of water sources and food products, such as meat, for antibiotic residues is necessary to ascertain that these compounds are not misused and do not present a danger to human and animal health.
The detection of nitrofurans themselves has proven challenging, as the drugs are rapidly metabolised after ingestion.
The protein bound metabolites which are formed, however, persist in edible tissue for a considerable amount of time after treatment. DNSH (3,5-dinitrosalicyclic acid hydrazide), the metabolite moiety derived from Nifursol is not degraded by common cooking techniques and can be released from tissue under mildly acidic conditions, making it ideal for monitoring and detection in edible tissue.