Determination of naturally occurring oestrogens and androgens in retail samples of milk and eggs

Food Addit Contam. 2007 Dec;24(12):1358-66. doi: 10.1080/02652030701329637.


The occurrence of the main steroid hormones (oestrone, 17alpha-oestradiol, 17beta-oestradiol, 17alpha-testosterone, 17beta-testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, 4-androstenedione), especially in milk and eggs, was investigated. An analytical method based on GC-MS/MS was developed for steroid measurement at an ultra-trace level in food products. The limits of detection for oestrogens were about 5 and 30 ng kg(-1) in milk and eggs, respectively. For androgens, the limits of detection were around 10 and 50 ng kg(-1) in milk and eggs, respectively. The method was applied to milk and egg samples collected in a French supermarket. In milk, oestrone was found at levels between 100 and 300 ng l(-1), while 17beta-oestradiol levels were estimated to be near 20 ng l(-1). 17alpha-testosterone was found to be from 50 ng l(-1) in skimmed milk to 85 ng l(-1) in whole milk. In egg samples, oestrone and 17beta-oestradiol were found at 1.5 and 0.9 microg kg(-1), respectively, while 17alpha-oestradiol was found to be in lower concentrations (i.e. around 0.55 microg kg(-1)). Regarding androgens, 17alpha- and 17beta-testosterone were estimated at 1.9 and 1.3 microg kg(-1), respectively. These results represent a first attempt to estimate the food exposure to steroid hormones. In the future, the collection of additional data should permit the comparison between this exogenous dietary intake and the daily endogenous production in pre-pubertal children as a basis of risk assessment regarding endocrine disruption linked to these molecules for this critical population.

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Eggs / analysis*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / analysis
  • Estrogens / analysis*
  • France
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Milk / chemistry*


  • Androgens
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Estrogens