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Center for a Livable Future


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in chicken meat and other food animal products: A market-based pilot study

Patrick A. Baron, David C. Love, Keeve E. Nachman
Science of the Total Environment, Volume 490, 15 August 2014

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Pharmaceutical drugs are extensively used in industrial food animal production. We examined whether residues of veterinary antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) were detectable in a small market-basket sample of retail chicken (n = 39), ground beef (n = 3) and milk (n = 3) samples. High-performance liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry were used to assess the concentration of 59 PPCPs and their residues in animal products. All samples of ground beef, milk, and 14 chickens were analyzed individually, while an additional 25 chicken samples were pooled and analyzed in groups of five. The majority of PPCPs were not detected in meat and milk samples. Caffeine was detected in two of three milk samples (0.4 ng/mL, 2.0 ng/mL) and in 10 of 19 individual and pooled chicken samples (median: 18.6 ng/g, range: 6.1–28.8 ng/g). Acetaminophen was detected in three of three milk samples (median: 1.5 ng/mL, range: 1.4–2.1 ng/mL). Antibiotics in the tetracycline class were detected in two of three milk samples (median: 1.0 ng/mL, range: 0.1–2.0 ng/mL) and did not exceed regulatory residue tolerances of 300 ng/mL. There are no regulatory residue tolerances for caffeine or acetaminophen in animal products. The acetaminophen detections in milk, however, raise questions about extra-label and unapproved use of pharmaceutical drugs in food animal production, as this drug is not approved for use in lactating dairy cattle or any other type of food animal production. Additional studies are needed to confirm our finding of PPCPs in meat and dairy products.