Aflatoxins, buffalo dairy production and milk quality in Pakistan

Naveed Aslam

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    881 Downloads (Pure)


    Improving both quality and quantity of food available is a pressing need especially when one eighth of the world’s population consume less energy than is required for maintenance and are exposed to contaminated food, both of which lead to greater susceptibility to diseases. The Pakistani population depends heavily on milk for utritional needs and twenty five percent of a household income is spent on milk. This commodity requires continuous monitoring and care from its site of production by smallholder dairy producers through to urban consumers along tradition milk marketing chains.

    Feed ingredients used as concentrate feed to enhance milk production are often
    contaminated with mycotoxins which after ingestion are transferred into milk.
    Numerous studies have been conducted in the past to assess the carryover of
    different mycotoxins especially aflatoxins from feed to milk in cattle. There is very little information available for transfer of these mycotoxins into buffalo milk. Aflatoxins in milk can cause liver cancers, immune system disorders and growth related issues in children. Moreover, deaths in both humans and animals have also been reported after ingestion of aflatoxin contaminated food. The present study investigated the transfer of aflatoxins from feed to milk in Nili-Ravi buffaloes and from feed to urine in Nili-Ravi buffalo heifers to observe their partitioning to milk and urine respectively.

    Intentional and unintentional adulteration with various chemical and toxic
    compounds has also been reported in milk sold in urban markets. Milk quality
    collected from informal milk supply chains was subjected to detailed analysis for
    quality in terms nutrient content, presence of any adulterants and occurrence of
    mycotoxins and antibiotic residues. Milk samples were collected from different
    producers, distributors and retailers for one complete year to observe the seasonal variation in quality at different levels of these marketing chains.

    Buffaloes as shown by the results of present research are no different from the cattle when it comes to transfer of aflatoxins into milk after ingestion. A carryover of 4.14% and 5.06% was observed in lactating Nili-Ravi buffaloes. Further partitioning study of aflatoxins into urine in Nili-Ravi buffalo heifers showed 14-15.5% excreted into urine. Analysis of concentrate feed showed very high levels of contamination (more than 550 µg aflatoxinB1/kg) along with the presence of other very important mycotoxins, zearalenone, deoxynevalenol, fumonisins and ochratoxins.

    Milk quality analysis of samples collected along informal marketing chains showed an acceptable quality of milk in terms of fat (3.21%) and protein (2.08%) at final level of retailers. No chemical adulteration of milk was found, showing that the existing monitoring system for quality and freshness of milk between different tiers of marketing chains is working effectively. On the other hand the final concentration of aflatoxinM1 in milk assessed at retailer level was more than 50 times the maximum standard set by the European Union. Further analysis for beta lactams showed that fifteen percent of the samples tested were positive for the presence of at least one of the three (penicillin, ampicillin, amoxycillin) antibiotics.

    These findings demand the implementation of an extensive education program for farmers and supply chain management personnel to maintain the excellent quality of milk from production to marketing required by the consumer. The current legislation needs reforms on a large scale to protect the very high poverty stricken population of Pakistan from the risk of life threatening diseases resulting from consumption of these contaminants. The public health status of the Pakistani population can then improve.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Wynn, Peter, Principal Supervisor
    Award date26 Mar 2015
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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