Feed additives

News 7 commentslast update:14 Jan 2016

Alarming heavy metal levels in Asian feed and premixes

30% of the samples collected from complete feed, premix, inorganic minerals and organic minerals contained heavy metals and are above the acceptable EU levels.

This is the conclusion from the 2015 Alltech Heavy Metal Survey among almost 500 samples throughout the Asia-Pacific region. These were analysed for arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) with an Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES) within Alltech's extensive laboratory facilities.

Impact for animals and consumers

"As we have seen over the previous years we have conducted the survey, the results were once again quite alarming. Results show 30% of 498 samples tested were contaminated with at least one heavy metal above acceptable EU levels. A closer look into the results show that 14% of inorganic minerals, 7% of organic minerals, 15% of premixes and a staggering 68% of the complete feeds analyzed were contaminated.  This has been shown to have not only an impact on animal performance but also on consumer safety," said Tara Jarman, Alltech Asia-Pacific mineral manager.

Lead in poultry feed sample

Extremely high levels of heavy metals were detected in some samples. For example, 2,019 ppm of cadmium was detected in a copper sulphate sample while a zinc oxide sample revealed 3,023 ppm of lead. One poultry feed sample from Southeast Asia contained a high level of lead at 722 ppm. High contamination levels are commonly found in inorganic minerals due to the mining and manufacturing process as well as less stringent quality assurance applied to feed-grade mineral sources.

Ongoing risk

"It is important to remember, that this survey is only a snapshot in time. Heavy metal contamination is an ongoing risk. The only way to ensure ongoing quality minerals, free from heavy metal, PCB and dioxin contamination, is to test every batch" said Jarman.


  • SR Williams

    I am afraid I can't agree with Ms Jarman's conclusion. Testing is not the answer, correct application of risk assessment/ HACCP techniques to identify the source of the contamination and then managing this correctly is the only way to avoid these issues. As the saying goes 'quality can't be tested in'

  • Nima Moazzen

    Heavy metal is a meaningless term, because some elements such as Iron are heavy metals too, but we know they're not toxic. So we should call them Toxic Elements.

  • Emmy Koeleman

    Dear Nima, as the news item states, the results for this study are for arsenic, cadmium and lead. It is more the level of ppbs that makes them toxic.

  • Nima Moazzen

    Dear Emmy, Bjerrum’s definition of “heavy metals” is based upon the density of the elemental form of the metal, and he classifies “heavy metals” as those metals with elemental densities above 7 g/cm3. Over the years, this definition has been modified by various authors, and there is no consistency. Anyway, the threat of ''high level of toxic elements'' is more important than a wrong term. Thanks for alltech survey and your alarming.

  • Barry Cohen

    WOW! Lead and other toxic heavy metals in animal feed really need to be cleaned up and detoxed from the body! Concerned readers may want to check out the informative website at <>


    This is actually alarming condition for SEA region. So we need more on going surveillance system to find out the heavy metals inorganic minerals. There might be remain in confounding factors to detect heavy metals
    during the processing of inorganic minerals that should be under consideration.
    Dr.Abu Taleb,Renata ltd.Product Manager, Bangladesh

  • Bhuwan Purohit

    There are companies supplying feed grade mineral additives with guaranteed heavy metal as per the most strict norms for heavy metal and for undesirable substances under FAMI-QS / HACCP protocols. Check out one such company - <>

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