A glass of milk contains cocktail of up to 20 chemicals
Using a highly sensitive test, a team of Spanish and Moroccan scientists found traces of a host of chemicals in samples of cow, goat and human breast milk.
Though the doses were far too small to have an effect on anyone drinking them, the researchers said their findings
highlighted how man-made chemicals are now found throughout the food chain, the Daily Mail reported.
The highest quantities of medicines were found in cow milk, and the researchers believe some of the drugs and growth
promoters were given to the cattle, or got into milk through cattle feed or contamination on the farm.
The team analysed 20 samples of cow milk bought in Spain and Morocco, along with samples of goat and breast milk.
Their breakdown, which is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, revealed that cow milk contained traces of anti-inflammatory drugs niflumic acid, mefenamic acid and ketoprofen – commonly used as painkillers in animals and people.
It also contained the hormone 17-beta-estradiol, a form of the sex hormone oestrogen. The hormone was detected at
three millionths of a gram in every kilogramme of milk, while the highest dose of niflumic acid was less than one millionth
of a gram per kilogram of milk.
The scientists, however, said their technique could be used to check the safety of other types of food.
"We believe the methodology will help provide a more effective way of determining the presence of these kinds of
contaminants in milk or other products," said lead researcher Dr Evaristo Ballesteros from the University of Jaen in Spain.
Food quality control laboratories could use this new tool to detect these drugs before they enter the food chain. This would raise consumers` awareness and give them the knowledge that food is… harmless, pure, genuine, beneficial to health and free of toxic residues," Dr Ballesteros added.
The tests also found niflumic acid in goat`s milk, while breast milk contained traces of painkillers ibuprofen and naproxen, along with the antibiotic triclosan and some hormones.
If the findings are true for Spanish and Moroccan milk, they could equally be true for milk produced in Britain and northern Europe, the researchers said.
The researchers said their new 30-minute test is the most sensitive of its kind, they added.Last year Portsmouth University scientists found that fish were being contaminated with the anti-depressant Prozac.
The drug enters rivers from the sewer system and tinkers with the brain chemistry of fish, they claimed. Previous studies have also shown that caffeine is released into our waterways after surviving the sewage treatment process.