Food frauds are a critical issue in the field of food safety and quality. Given the high added value, and the complexity of the matrix, processed meat products are among those most susceptible of adulteration. Despite all the efforts made by the official control authorities and by the food industry to counteract these frauds, the undeclared replacement of meat species with cheaper ones is still widespread. The meat species allowed for food consumption are many, and their specific and accurate detection in highly processed food products requires very sensitive and selective analytical methods. In this work, a LC-MS method was developed to identify and quantify eight different meat species (duck, rabbit, chicken, turkey, buffalo, equine, deer and sheep) in a complex food matrix, such as Bolognese sauce. After protein extraction and trypsin digestion, a species-specific peptide marker for each species was chosen for qualification and quantification. The method was validated on real Bolognese sauce samples prepared in an industrial environment, showing a good sensitivity (LOD 0.2–0.8% on whole finished product) and the possibility, using specifically defined calibration lines, to quantify the amount of meat present coming from different species.
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