Determination of Major and Minor Elements in Maltese Sheep, Goat and Cow Milk Using Microwave Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectrophotometry

  •  Ritianne Spiteri    
  •  Everaldo Attard    


The mineral content of milk from sheep, goats and cows bred in Malta and Gozo were determined for the first time. Two hundred and twenty samples were collected from cow, sheep and goat farms in Malta and Gozo. Ten macro and micro minerals were analysed, using microwave plasma-atomic emission spectrophotometry.

No significant differences were observed between localities for the metals in the ruminant milk. Three micro minerals, Mn, Cr and Cd were not detected in the three milk types. However, most metals differed significantly between ruminants. Potassium was highest in cow milk, while Ca was significantly the highest in sheep milk. The other metals occurred at much lower concentrations. For the micro minerals, sheep milk exhibited the highest concentrations for Fe, Mg and Cu while cow milk showed the highest values for Zn and Ba. Principal component analysis revealed the separation of the cow and sheep milk samples into two distinct clusters, while the goat milk samples were scattered across the two clusters. This shows the distinctiveness of the sheep milk over the other two milk types.

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