Milk found safe from toxic algae

January 18, 2000

Even if dairy cattle drink water polluted by toxic blue-green algae, the toxins do not get into their milk -- which remains safe for human consumption.

"Many rural water bodies, including farm dams, can be affected by blooms of blue-algae which can produce a variety of potentially fatal toxins," says CSIRO's Dr Gary Jones.

It is not uncommon for livestock to drink non-lethal doses of algae from these dams, raising the question of whether the toxins can contaminate our 'clean-green' agricultural products and present a health risk. This possibility was raised in a report to the Prime Minister's Science and Engineering Council in 1996.

Research by scientists from CSIRO Land & Water and CSIRO Tropical Agriculture has shown there is little risk from one of these algal toxins contaminating Australian dairy products. Whilst this is good news for the dairy industry, it may not be the case for other toxins or other agricultural products.

"Our research was intended to find out whether one particular toxin could get into dairy products, especially milk." says Mr Phillip Orr. "The good news is that it can't."

To test the theory, dairy cows were fed water contaminated with a typical bloom concentration of the blue-green algae Microcystis. This produces a potent toxin known as microcystin that can cause liver damage and cancer if consumed in sufficient amounts. The World Health Organisation recently advised an absolute limit of one part per billion of microcystin in human drinking water.

"In this instance, not only did the cows themselves show no ill effects from drinking this contaminated water, but we could not even detect trace amounts of microcystin in their milk using two highly-sensitive tests," Mr Orr reported.

"This is very reassuring for the dairy industry, and for consumers," says Dr Hunter. "We consider it to be good evidence that cows which have consumed water or feed contaminated with microcystin produce milk which is either free of the toxin or has levels so low that it presents no threat to our health."

CSIRO Australia

Related Drinking Articles from Brightsurf:

The dangers of collecting drinking water
Fetching drinking water in low and middle income countries can cause serious injury, particularly for women.

Light drinking may protect brain function
Light to moderate drinking may preserve brain function in older age, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

Even 'low-risk' drinking can be harmful
It's not just heavy drinking that's a problem -- even consuming alcohol within weekly low-risk drinking guidelines can result in hospitalization and death, according to a new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Alcohol marketing and underage drinking
A new study by a research team including scientists from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation provides a systematic review of research that examines relationships between exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol use behaviors among adolescents and young adults.

Which came first: Brain size or drinking propensity?
Contrary to the belief that drinking can literally shrink one's brain, a new study that includes researchers from Arts & Sciences suggests that a small brain might be a risk factor for heavier alcohol consumption.

Frequent drinking is greater risk factor for heart rhythm disorder than binge drinking
Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking, according to research published today in EP Europace, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Binge drinking may be more damaging to women
In a recently published study examining the effects of binge drinking on rats, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine discovered that female rats who were of equal age and weight to male rats were more sensitive to alcohol and experienced alcoholic liver injury at a higher rate than male rats.

What predicts college students' drinking habits? How much they think others are drinking
A new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University examined students' genetic risk of alcohol use, roommates' drinking habits and the perception of peer drinking.

Drinking diplomacy
Using newly discovered archival materials, Igor Fedyukin of the Higher School of Economics, in collaboration with Robert Collis (Drake University) and Ernest A.

College drinking intervention strategies need a refresh
Peer approval is the best indicator of the tendency for new college students to drink or smoke according to new research from Michigan State University.

Read More: Drinking News and Drinking Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to