Essential trace and toxic element concentrations in organic and conventional milk in NW Spain

Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 May;55:513-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.01.040. Epub 2013 Feb 4.


Dietary composition and husbandry practices largely determine essential trace element status and toxic element exposure of livestock, and consequently their concentrations in animal products. This study evaluates the main essential trace (Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, I, Mn, Mo, Ni, Se and Zn) and toxic (As, Cd, Hg and Pb) element concentrations in milk from organic and conventional farms in NW Spain (n=50). Milk samples were acid digested and analyzed by ICP-MS. Essential trace element concentrations in organic milk were significantly lower compared to conventional milk, this was especially evident for elements that are routinely supplemented at high concentrations in the conventional concentrate feed: Cu (41.0 and 68.9μg/L in organic and conventional milk, respectively), Zn (3326 and 3933μg/L), I (78 and 265μg/L) and Se (9.4 and 19.2μg/L). Toxic metal concentrations in milk were in general very low and no statistically significant differences were observed between organic and conventional milk. In addition, the mineral content of organic milk showed a seasonal pattern, the significantly higher As (65%) and Fe (13%) concentrations found in the winter sampling possibly being related to a higher consumption of concentration feed and soil ingestion when grazing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Hazardous Substances / analysis*
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Seasons
  • Spain
  • Trace Elements / analysis*


  • Hazardous Substances
  • Trace Elements