Applications of fluorescence spectroscopy that enable the real-time or rapid detection of fecal contamination on beef carcasses and the presence of central nervous system tissue in meat products are discussed. The former is achieved by employing spectroscopic signatures of chlorophyll metabolites; the latter, by exploiting the characteristic structure and intensity of lipofuscin in central nervous system tissue. The success of these techniques has led us to investigate the possibility of diagnosing scrapie in sheep by obtaining fluorescence spectra of the retina. Crucial to this diagnosis is the ability to obtain baseline correlations of lipofuscin fluorescence with age. A murine model was employed as a proof of principle of this correlation.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.