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Major and trace elements in organically or conventionally produced milk

  • John E Hermansen (a1), Jens H Badsberg (a2), Troels Kristensen (a1) and Vagn Gundersen (a3)


A total of 480 samples of milk from 10 organically and 10 conventionally producing dairy farms in Denmark and covering 8 sampling periods over 1 year (triplicate samplings) were analysed for 45 trace elements and 6 major elements by high-resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. Sampling, sample preparation, and analysis of the samples were performed under carefully controlled contamination-free conditions. The dairy cattle breeds were Danish-Holstein or Jersey. Sources of variance were quantified, and differences between production systems and breeds were tested. The major source of variation for most elements was week of sampling. Concentrations of Al, Cu, Fe, Mo, Rb, Se, and Zn were within published ranges. Concentrations of As, Cd, Cr, Mn and Pb were lower, and concentrations of Co and Sr were higher than published ranges. Compared with Holsteins, Jerseys produced milk with higher concentrations of Ba, Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Mo, P, Rh, and Zn and with a lower concentration of Bi. The organically produced milk, compared with conventionally produced milk, contained a significantly higher concentration of Mo (48 v. 37 ng/g) and a lower concentration of Ba (43 v. 62 ng/g), Eu (4 v. 7 ng/g), Mn (16 v. 20 ng/g) and Zn (4400 v. 5150 ng/g respectively). The investigation yielded typical concentrations for the following trace elements in milk, for which no or very few data are available: Ba, Bi, Ce, Cs, Eu, Ga, Gd, In, La, Nb, Nd, Pd, Pr, Rh, Sb, Sm, Tb, Te, Th, Ti, Tl, U, V, Y, and Zr.


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