An overview of the main foodstuff sample preparation technologies for tetracycline residue determination
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Tetracyclines are widely used for both the treatment and prevention of diseases in animals as well as for the promotion of rapid animal growth and weight gain. This practice may result in trace amounts of these drugs in products of animal origin, such as milk and eggs, posing serious risks to human health. The presence of tetracycline residues in foods can lead to the transmission of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria through the food chain. In order to ensure food safety and avoid exposure to these substances, national and international regulatory agencies have established tolerance levels for authorized veterinary drugs, including tetracycline antimicrobials. In view of that, numerous sensitive and specific methods have been developed for the quantification of these compounds in different food matrices. One will note, however, that the determination of trace residues in foods such as milk and eggs often requires extensive sample extraction and preparation prior to conducting instrumental analysis. Sample pretreatment is usually the most complicated step in the analytical process and covers both cleaning and pre-concentration. Optimal sample preparation can reduce analysis time and sources of error, enhance sensitivity, apart from enabling unequivocal identification, confirmation and quantification of target analytes. The development and implementation of more environmentally friendly analytical procedures, which involve the use of less hazardous solvents and smaller sample sizes compared to traditional methods, is a rapidly increasing trend in analytical chemistry. This review seeks to provide an updated overview of the main trends in sample preparation for the determination of tetracycline residues in foodstuffs. The applicability of several extraction and clean-up techniques employed in the analysis of foodstuffs, especially milk and egg samples, is also thoroughly discussed.