Hyderabad: Cattle milk, a major food component for growing children, is contaminated with heavy metals including lead.
Interestingly milk supplied by organised sector contains more lead content than that procured from unorganised dairies. Though presence of lead in food chain is well documented in developed countries, it is for the first time that a research study in India has revealed contents of heavy metals in buffalo blood, fodder and milk.
The study was conducted jointly by the Food and Drug Toxicology Research Centre of the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, and the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. Lead was found to be more than the permissible levels in milk indicating entry of lead through the food chain into the cattle.
The results suggested that the lead levels were high in fodder, buffalo blood and milk samples obtained from the organised sector. The haemoglobin, serum iron and zinc were significantly low in buffaloes from the unorganised sectors as compared to that of organised sectors.
"Pollutants and nutrients in milk should be monitored on a regular basis to assess the exposure status through food chain cycle. This will prevent lead poisoning in people," the researchers said.
Consumption of cattle milk contaminated with lead will cause, over a period of time, damage to brain and central nervous system particularly in children. Lead poisoning may also result in reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders and kidney damage.