Veterinary educators and toxicology researchers are examining livestock lead exposure and its potential impact on our food sources.
Whether from old paint, leaking batteries or lead shot that finds its way into feed, dairy cows and beef cattle can inadvertently consume lead. After being absorbed into the blood, lead can be found in milk or muscle meats. Greater concentrations may be stored in organs and bones, neither of which should be consumed if cattle have been exposed to lead. Some cattle can have high blood lead levels for months.
As with many other dangers, prevention is key. Elevated lead levels in other farm animals or in farmers themselves should prompt testing of cattle and a search of the premises. Culprits can include areas of renovation, farm machinery, tools, paint and grease.