Therapeutic and subtherapeutic use of veterinary drugs has increased the risk of residue contamination in animal food products. Antibiotics such as tetracycline are used for mastitis treatment of lactating cows. Milk expressed from treated cows before the withdrawal period has elapsed may contain tetracycline residue. This study developed a simple surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopic (SERS) method for on-site screening of tetracycline residue in milk and water. Six batches of silver colloid nanoparticles were prepared for surface enhancement measurement. Milk-tetracycline and water-tetracycline solutions were prepared at seven concentration levels (1000, 500, 100, 10, 1, 0.1, and 0.01 ppm) and spiked with silver colloid nanoparticles. A 785 nm Raman spectroscopic system was used for spectral measurement. Tetracycline vibrational modes were observed at 1285, 1317 and 1632 cm−1
in water-tetracycline solutions and 1322 and 1621 cm−1
(shifted from 1317 and 1632 cm−1
, respectively) in milk-tetracycline solutions. Tetracycline residue concentration as low as 0.01 ppm was detected in both the solutions. The peak intensities at 1285 and 1322 cm−1
were used to estimate the tetracycline concentrations in water and milk with correlation coefficients of 0.92 for water and 0.88 for milk. Results indicate that this SERS method is a potential tool that can be used on-site at field production for qualitative and quantitative detection of tetracycline residues.
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