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Equine Vet J. 1990 Jul;22(4):244-6.

The excretion of theobromine in Thoroughbred racehorses after feeding compounded cubes containing cocoa husk--establishment of a threshold value in horse urine.

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Horseracing Forensic Laboratory Limited, Newmarket, Suffolk.


Thoroughbred geldings were fed racehorse cubes containing a predetermined concentration of theobromine in the form of cocoa husk. They were offered 7 kg of cubes per day, divided between morning and evening feed, and food consumption was monitored. Urinary concentrations of theobromine were determined following the consumption of cubes containing 11.5, 6.6, 2.0 and 1.2 mg per kg of theobromine, to verify whether or not such concentrations would produce positive urine tests. Pre-dose urine samples were collected to verify the absence of theobromine before each experiment. It became apparent from the results of the first three administrations that the limit of detection of theobromine, using such procedures, would be reached at a feed level of about 1 mg per kg theobromine. Therefore the final administration, using cubes containing 1.2 mg per kg theobromine, was singled out for additional analytical work and quantitative procedures were developed to measure urinary concentrations of theobromine. It was anticipated that the results would form a basis for discussions relating to the establishment of a threshold value for theobromine in horse urine. The Stewards of the Jockey Club subsequently gave notice that they had established a threshold level for theobromine in urine of 2 micrograms/ml.

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