Heavy Metal Contamination of Animal Feed in Texas

Susie Y. Dai, Ben Jones, Kyung-Min Lee, Wei Li, Lynn Post, Timothy J Herrman


The management of animal feed safety risks using a risk management framework begins with identifying and quantifying the presence of hazards. For animal feed, a paucity of information exists about the presence of heavy metal in feed ingredients, premixes, and finished feed. This study examines 564 feed samples over a period of five years (2010-2015) collected by Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service (FFCS) investigators using ocial sampling and chain-of-custody techniques. Samples were prepared and analyzed in the Oce of the Texas State Chemists laboratory (Agricultural Analytical Service) on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. The heavy metals of concern included arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se), and thallium (Tl). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistic techniques and summarized by element, feed type, and year. During 2010, 28% of the samples contained detectable levels of heavy metals, a few of which contained higher than maximum tolerable levels of the elements [1]. The percentage of detectable heavy metals increased in subsequent years as the analytical technique used became more sensitive and an increased number of heavy metal contaminants were analyzed. A positive skewness was observed for most heavy metals in most ingredients resulting for the detection of high levels of contamination among a few samples. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of heavy metals during the prescribed time period and ingredient/finished feed type and will facilitate risk assessment and implementation of risk management techniques prescribed by the Food Safety Modernization Act requirements that impacts the United States and global feed industry.


heavy metal, feed, risk management, risk assessment

Full Text:



NRC(2005). Mineral Tolerances of Animals, National Academies Press,Washington, DC.

H. Ali, E. Khan, M. Sajad, Phytoremediation of heavy metals–concepts and applications, Chemosphere 91 (2013) 869–881.

A. R. Memon, P. Schroder, Implications of metal accumulation mechanismsto phytoremediation, Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. Int. 16 (2009) 162–175.

H. Wang, Y. Dong, Y. Yang, G. Toor, X. Zhang, Changes in heavy metal contents in animal feeds and manures in an intensive animal production region of china, J Environ. Sci. 25 (2013) 2435–2442.

R. A. Garcia, K. Rosentrater, Concentration of key elements in north american meat & bone meal, Biomass & Bioenergy 32 (2008) 887–891.

Y. Li, D. F. McCrory, J. Powell, H. Saam, D. Jackson-Smith, A survey of selected heavy metal concentrations in wisconsin dairy feeds, J Dairy Sci. 88 (2005) 2911–2922.

F. A. Nicholson, B. Chambers, J. R. Williams, R. J. Unwin, Heavy metal contents of livestock feeds and animal manures in england and wales, Bioresource Technology 70 (1999) 23–31.

Guidlines on the Application of Risk Assessment for Feed, Codex Document CAC/GL 80-2013 , Codex Alimentarius, 2013. Web accessed January 2015 http://www.codexalimentarius.org/standards/list-of-standards/.

R. Moral, M. D. Perez-Murcia, A. Perez-Espinosa, J. Moreno-Caselles, C. Paredes, B.Rufete, Salinity, organic content, micronutrients and heavy metals in pig slurries from south-eastern spain, Waste Manag. 28 (2008) 367–371.

M. Skrivan, V. Skrivanova, M. Marounek, Effects of dietary zinc, iron, and copper in layer feed on distribution of these elements in eggs, liver, excreta, soil, and herbage, Poult. Sci. 84 (2005) 1570–1575.

AAFCO(2015), Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2014 official publication.

ATSDR. (2011). Toxic Substances Portal, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=44, webaccessed in June 2014.

S. Samanta, K. Mitra, K. Chandra, K. Saha, S. Bandopadhyay, A. Ghosh, Heavy metals in water of the rivers hooghly and haldi at haldia and their impact on fish, J Environ. Biol. 26 (2005) 1570–1575.

WHO(1996). Trace Elements in Human Nutrition and Health, web accessed August 2014. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/1996/9241561734 eng fulltext.pdf.

L. Stewart, L. (2013). Mineral supplements for beef cattle. UGA cooperative extension bulletin 895.

R. A. Sunde, Selenium. In B. A. Bowman & R. M. Russell (Eds.), Present Knowledge in Nutrition (9th ed., pp. 480-497). Washington, D.C.: ILSI Press.

21CFR573.920. (1995). Federal Register, 21 CFR part 573- Food addtives permitted in feed and drinking water of animals.

OTSC(2013). http://otscweb.tamu.edu/Reports/Annual/FeedDistHistory.aspx#2013. In (Vol. 2014).

Feedstuffs. (September 14, 2011). Feed market and distribution. Feedstuffs.

Texas Department of Agriculture,(2014). https://www.texasagriculture.gov/About/TexasAgStats.aspx. In (Vol. 2014).

M. L. Galyean, C. Ponce, J. Schuta, The future of beef production in north america, Animal Frintiers 1 (2011) 29–36.

Food and Agriculture Organization. 2006 Food safety risk analysis A guide for national food safety authorities. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 87. Rome, Italy.

AAFCO. (2015). Feed Inspector’s Manual (5th ed), AFFCO, 2015.

M. B. McBride, G. Spiers, Trace element content of selected fertilizers and dairy manures as determined by icp-ms, Commun. Soil Sci. Plan. 32 (2001) 183–194.

M. L. Biehl, W. B. Buck, Chemical contaminants - their metabolism and their residues, J. Food Prot. 50 (1987) 1058.

D. C. Church, Livestock Feeds & Feeding.

E. Baatrup, G. Danscher, Cytochemical demonstration of mercury deposits in trout liver and kidney following methyl mercury intoxication: differentiation of two mercury pools by selenium, Ecotoxicol Environ. Saf. 14.

S. Ciardullo, F. Aureli, E. Coni, E. Guandalini, F. Iosi, A. Raggi, G. Rufo, F. Cubadda, Bioaccumulation potential of dietary arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and selenium in organs and tissues of rainbow trout (oncorhyncus mykiss) as a function of fish growth, J. Agric. Food Chem. 56 (2008) 2442–2451.

J. Dorea, Fish meal in animal feed and human exposure to persistent bioaccumulative and toxic substances, J. Food Prot. 69 (2006) 2777–2785.

ATSDR. (2007a). Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Arsenic, August 2007, Center for Desease Control, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, web assessed August 2014. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp2.pdf.

Commission, E. (2002). Directive 2002/32/EC of the european parliament and of the council of 7 May 2002 on undesirable substances in animal feed, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legalcontent /EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32002L0032, web page accessed on June 2014.

F. Zhang, Y. Li, M. Yang, W. Li, Content of heavy metals in animal feeds and manures from farms of different scales in northeast china, Int. J Environ. Res. Public Health 9 (2012) 2658–2668.

Y. X. Li, X. Xiong, C. Y. Lin, F. S. Zhang, L. Wei, H. Wei, Cadmium in animal production and its potential hazard on beijing and fuxin farmlands, J Hazard Mater. 177 (2010) 475–480.

J. Luevano, C. Damodaran, A review of molecular events of cadmiuminduced carcinogenesis, J Environ. Pathol. Toxicol. Oncol. 33 (2001) 183–194.

T. W. Sullivan, J. Douglas, N. J. Gonzalez, Levels of various elements of concern in feed phosphates of domestic and foreign origin, Poult. Sci. 73 (1994) 520–528.

J. Cronin, The chromium controversy, Alternative and Complementary Therapies 10 (2004) 39–42.

J. Johnson, G. Savage, Mercury consumption and toxicicty with reference to fish and fish meal, Nutr. Abstr. Rev. A. 61 (1991) 74–116.

K. Julshamn, A. K. Lundebye, K. Heggstad, M. H. Berntssen, B. Boe, Norwegian monitoring programme on the inorganic and organic contaminants in fish caught in the barents sea, norwegian sea and north sea, Food Addit. Contam. 21 (2004) 365–376.

M. R. Taverner, Use of whale meal and whale solubles as dietary protein for growing pigs and their effects on the accumulation of mercury in tissues, Aust. J. Agric. Anim. Husb. 15 (1975) 363–368.

G. Cororos, P. Cahn, W. Siler, Mercury concentration in fish, plankton and water from three western atlantic estuaries, Journal of Fish Biology 5 (1973) 641–647.

J. B. Stevens, Disposition of toxic metals in the agricultural food-chain .1. steady-state bovine-milk biotransfer factors, Environmental Science & Technology 25 (1991) 1289–1294.

ATSDR. (2007b). Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Lead, August 2007, Center for Desease Control, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, web assessed August 2014. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp13.pdf.

V. Zitko, W. V. Carson, W. G. Carson, Thallium: occurrence in the environment and toxicity to fish, Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 9 (1975) 23–30.