Unveiling Phenolic Pollutants in Dairy Products: A Breakthrough Analysis


A recent study conducted at the University of Jaén in Spain has shed light on the presence of phenolic pollutants in milk and dairy products, raising concerns about the potential health implications for consumers. The research, led by Laura Palacios Colón, Andrés J. Rascón, and Evaristo Ballesteros, was published in the journal Food Control, Volume 146, under the title "Simultaneous determination of phenolic pollutants in dairy products held in various types of packaging by gas chromatography−mass spectrometry" (1).

Phenolic compounds, identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as priority organic pollutants, have been found to infiltrate milk and dairy products throughout various stages of production, from the farm to the packaging. The study presents a novel method involving ultrasound-assisted extraction from milk and dairy products, followed by a thorough clean-up process and preconcentration of analytes through continuous solid-phase extraction (SPE). Gas chromatography−mass spectrometry was employed for the quantification of 21 phenolic compounds, including phenols, alkylphenols, bisphenols, and chlorophenols.

The method's validation included assessments of recovery rates (85–108%), linearity, matrix effects (slight, <20%), precision (relative standard deviation <11%), and limits of detection (6–63 ng/kg) (1). The analysis of nineteen milk samples and corresponding dairy products revealed significant concentrations of bisphenol Z, bisphenol A, and 4-t-butylphenol. Notably, these contaminants were predominantly present in products stored in polystyrene terephthalate (PET), multilayer packaging (cardboard/polyethylene/aluminum), or polystyrene (PS) packaging. In contrast, dairy items packaged in glass containers exhibited minimal levels of these phenolic pollutants (1).

The study's findings underline the importance of understanding the potential health risks associated with the presence of phenolic compounds in dairy products. It also highlights the significance of packaging materials, with glass emerging as a safer option in terms of minimizing phenolic contamination.

The researchers emphasize the method's innovations, including a reduced consumption of organic solvents during sample treatment and the utilization of a highly efficient SPE continuous system for extraction. This novel analysis approach not only identifies the scope of phenolic pollutants in dairy products but also provides a sustainable approach to their detection, offering valuable insights for the dairy industry and regulatory bodies aiming to enhance product safety.

This article was written with the help of artificial intelligence and has been edited to ensure accuracy and clarity. You can read more about our policy for using AI here.


(1) Colón, L. P.; Rascón, A. J.; Ballesteros, E. Simultaneous Determination of Phenolic Pollutants in Dairy Products Held in Various Types of Packaging by Gas Chromatography−Mass Spectrometry. Food Control 2023, 146, 109564. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2022.109564

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