Determination of Heavy Metals through Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES) in Iranian Cheese and Their Potential Health Risks to the Adult Consumers

Elham Baseri, Mahmood Alimohammadi, Ramin Nabizadeh Nodehi, Shahrokh Nazmara, Gholamreza Jahed khaniki, Mohamad Es'haghi Gorji


In Iran, cheese is one of the dairy products that widely consumed as a main diet for breakfast. Moreover, trace metals in dairy products have recently gained considerable attention.
Iranian cheese samples were collected from Tehran, Iran (February to May 2013). Trace metals including Pb, Cd, Ni, Fe, Sn, Zn, Cr, and Cu were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) after dry ashing.
All the tested metals were detected in the cheese samples. The mean concentration of metals in cheese showed the following decreasing order Zn > Fe > Cu > Ni > Sn > Cr > Pb > Cd, with values of 12.98, 7.95, 1.96, 0.83, 0.46, 0.37, 0.34, and 0.01 mg/kg, respectively.
There were no significant differences between types of cheese samples in terms of content of trace metals (p>0.05). All the samples had Pb contents of greater than Codex limit (0.02 mg/kg). According to the measured values of the metals in this study, the intake of all the studied elements through the common consumption of cheese in Iran was below the dangerous level according to permissible intake value for each metal. Also, levels of correlations between the element pairs were analyzed.


Trace Metal; Cheese; Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry; Intake of Element.

Full Text:



Mendil D. Mineral and trace metal levels in some cheese collected from Turkey. Food Chemistry. 2006; 96(4):532-37.

Aly MM, Al-Seeni MN, Qusti SY, El-Sawi NM. Mineral content and microbiological examination of some white cheese in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during summer 2008. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2010; 48(11):3031-34.

Madadlou A, Mousavi ME, Farmani J. The influence of brine concentration on chemical composition and texture of Iranian White cheese. Journal of food engineering. 2007; 81(2):330-35.

Ghotbi M, Soleimanian-Zad S, Sheikh-Zeinoddin M. Identification of Lactobacillus pentosus, Lactobacillus paraplantarum and Lactobacillus plantarum in Lighvan cheese with 4 month ripening period by means of recA gene sequence analysis. Afr J Biotechnol. 2011; 10(10):1902-06.

Bakircioglu D, Kurtulus YB, Ucar G. Determination of some traces metal levels in cheese samples packaged in plastic and tin containers by ICP-OES after dry, wet and microwave digestion. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2011; 49(1):202-07.

Park Y. Comparison of mineral and cholesterol composition of different commercial goat milk products manufactured in USA. Small Ruminant Research. 2000; 37(2):115-24.

Żukowska J, Biziuk M. Methodological evaluation of method for dietary heavy metal intake. Journal of food science. 2008; 73(2):R21-R9.

Anastasio A, Caggiano R, Macchiato M, Paolo C, Ragosta M, Paino S, et al. Heavy metal concentrations in dairy products from sheep milk collected in two regions of southern Italy. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica. 2006; 47(1):69-74.

Ayar A, Sert D, Akın N. The trace metal levels in milk and dairy products consumed in middle Anatolia—Turkey. Environmental monitoring and assessment. 2009; 152(1-4):1-12.

Gogoasa I, Gergen I, Rada M, Pârvu D, Ciobanu C, Bordean D, et al. AAS detection of heavy metals in sheep cheese (the Banat area, Romania). Buletinul USAMV-CN. 2006; 62:240-45.

Salah F, Esmat I, Mohamed A. Heavy metals residues and trace elements in milk powder marketed in Dakahlia Governorate. International Food Research Journal. 2013; 20(4):1807-12.

Cichoscki AJ, Valduga E, Valduga AT, Tornadijo MaE, Fresno JM. Characterization of Prato cheese, a Brazilian semi-hard cow variety: evolution of physico-chemical parameters and mineral composition during ripening. Food Control. 2002; 13(4-5):329-36.

Birghila S, Dobrinas S, Stanciu G, Soceanu A. Determination of major and minor elements in milk through ICP-AES. Environmental engineering and management journal. 2008; 7(6):805-08.

Commission CA. Codex general standard for contaminants and toxins in food and feed. Codex Stan 193-1995.p:33, available at:

Orak H, Altun M, Ercag E. Survey of heavy metals in Turkish white cheese. Italian journal of food science. 2005; 17(1):95-100.

Coni E, Bocca A, Ianni D, Caroli S. Preliminary evaluation of the factors influencing the trace element content of milk and dairy products. Food chemistry. 1995; 52(2):123-30.

Ereifej KI, Gharaibeh S. The levels of cadmium, nickel, manganese lead, zinc, iron, tin, copper and arsenic in the brined canned Jordanian cheese. Zeitschrift für Lebensmittel-Untersuchung und Forschung. 1993; 197(2):123-26.

Coni E, Bocca A, Coppolelli P, Caroli S, Cavallucci C, Marinucci MT. Minor and trace element content in sheep and goat milk and dairy products. Food Chemistry. 1996; 57(2):253-60.

Maas S, Lucot E, Gimbert F, Crini N, Badot P-M. Trace metals in raw cows’ milk and assessment of transfer to Comté cheese. Food Chemistry. 2011; 129(1):7-12.

Anonymous. Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran, Cheese in brine specifications & test methods. 2001, Standard No: 2344-1.

Blunden S, Wallace T. Tin in canned food: a review and understanding of occurrence and effect. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2003; 41(12):1651-62.

Kira CS, Maihara VA. Determination of major and minor elements in dairy products through inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry after wet partial digestion and neutron activation analysis. Food chemistry. 2007; 100(1):390-95.

García MIH, Puerto PP, Baquero MF, Rodríguez ER, Martín JD, Romero CD. Mineral and trace element concentrations of dairy products from goats’ milk produced in Tenerife (Canary Islands). International dairy journal. 2006; 16(2):182-85.

Lendinez E, Lorenzo M, Cabrera C, Lopez M. Chromium in basic foods of the Spanish diet: seafood, cereals, vegetables, olive oils and dairy products. Science of the total environment. 2001; 278:183-89.

Smart G, Sherlock J. Nickel in foods and the diet. Food Additives & Contaminants. 1987; 4(1):61-71.

International Dairy Federation (IDF) and Statistics Canada, available at: [ fcil&s2=cons&s3=consglo&s4=tc-ft].

Baseri E, Alimohammadi M, Nabizadeh Nodehi R, Nazmara Sh, Jahed khanikiGh, Mahmoodi B. Estimation of Weekly Human Intake of Heavy Metals (Lead, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Tin, Zinc, and Nickel) through Cheese Consumption in Iran. Journal of Health. 2017; 8(2): 160-69.

FAO/WHO. Summary of evaluations performed by the joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives (JECFA 1956–2003): ILSI Press International Life Sciences Institute; 2004.

EU. Commission r-Regulation setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in food stuffs. (EC). 2006.

WHO. Guidelines for drinking water quality. Chemical aspects. Geneva: WHO1993.

Iranian Journal of Health, Safety and Environment e-ISSN: :2345-5535 Iran university of Medical sciences, Tehran, Iran