Role of Lanthanides in the Traceability of the Milk Production Chain.

Abstract

The traceability and authentication of milk were studied using trace and ultratrace elements as chemical markers. Among these variables, the group of lanthanides resulted in being particularly useful for this purpose as a result of their homogeneous distribution inside milk, which showed on the contrary to be intrinsically inhomogeneous from the elemental point of view. Using in this pilot study milk samples from a factory in Piedmont (Italy), we demonstrated that the distribution of lanthanides can be used as a fingerprint to put into relation the soil of the pasture land on which cows graze and the bottled milk produced in the factory. In fact, the distribution is maintained nearly unaltered along the production chain of milk, apart from the passage into the stomachs of the cows. Using the same variables, it was possible to discriminate between milk produced in the factory and milk samples taken from the large-scale retail trade.

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