Determination of mammalian deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in commercial vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs and cats

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5 Scopus citations


The determination of undeclared ingredients in pet food using different analytical methods has been reported in recent years, raising concerns regarding adequate quality control, dietary efficacy and the potential for purposeful adulteration. The objective of this study was to determine the presence or absence of mammalian DNA using multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on diets marketed as vegetarian or vegan for dogs and cats. The diets were tested in duplicate; two samples were purchased approximately 3 to 4 months apart with different lot numbers. Multiplex PCR-targeted mitochondrial DNA with two species-specific primers was used to amplify and sequence two sections of the cytochrome b gene for each of the 11 mammalian species. Half of the diets assessed (7/14) were positive for one or more undeclared mammalian DNA source (bovine, porcine, or ovine), and the result was repeatable for one or more species in six diets. While most of the detected DNA was found at both time points, in some cases, the result was positive only at one time point, suggesting the presence may have been due to unintentional cross-contact with animal-sourced ingredients. DNA from feline, cervine, canine, caprine, equine, murine (mouse and rat) and leporine was not identified in any samples. However, evidence of mammalian DNA does not confirm adulteration by the manufacturer nor elucidate its clinical significance when consumed by animals that may benefit from a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Ingredients
  • Pet food
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals


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