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Food Addit Contam. 2000 Jun;17(6):447-57.

Toxic and trace elements in liver, kidney and meat from cattle slaughtered in Galicia (NW Spain).

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  • 1Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Departamento de Patoloxía Animal, Facultade de Veterinaria, Lugo, Spain.


The aims of this study were to determine the levels of some toxic and trace metals in cattle meat in Spain and to compare them with concentrations in cattle elsewhere and to maximum acceptable levels. Arsenic, cadmium, lead, copper and zinc concentrations in the liver, kidney and muscle (meat) from 438 calves (6-10 months old) and 56 cows (2-16 years old) slaughtered in Galicia (NW Spain) in 1996 were quantified. The arithmetic mean fresh weight concentrations in calf liver, kidney and muscle respectively were 0.043, 0.055, 0.004 mg/kg for arsenic, 0.032, 0.070, 0.001 mg/kg for cadmium, 0.053, 0.052, 0.009 mg/kg for lead, 64.6, 4.91, 0.677 mg/kg for copper and 47.7, 14.4, 47.8 mg/kg for zinc. In cows, these concentrations were 0.046, 0.068, 0.005 mg/kg (arsenic), 0.097, 0.458, 0.001 mg/kg (cadmium), 0.057, 0.066, 0.017 mg/kg (lead), 60.3, 3.67, 1.26 mg/kg (copper) and 59.8, 20.0, 52.7 mg/kg (zinc). Except for copper levels in the liver which were high, metal concentrations in cattle were generally low in Galicia and broadly similar to those in the rest of Europe, Australia and Canada. Arsenic, cadmium and lead concentrations in Galician cattle rarely exceeded acceptable maximum concentrations that have been adopted by many countries. Copper and zinc concentrations in Galician cattle did exceed acceptable maximum concentrations but the frequency with which this occurred depended upon which acceptable maximum concentration was used; regulatory values differ markedly between countries.

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