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Keywords:

  • terpenes;
  • feed tracers;
  • sheep;
  • animal products;
  • milk;
  • blood

Summary

Terpenes have been proposed as potential biomarkers in verifying the diets of grazing animals. A study of the relationships between the intake of terpenes and their presence in animal tissues (blood and milk) as well as in the final product (cheese) was conducted. Eight dairy sheep were divided into two equal groups, representing control (C) and treatment group (T). In T group oral administration of a mixture of terpenes, α-pinene, limonene and β-caryophyllene, was applied over a period of 18 days. Blood and milk samples were collected regularly and terpenes were identified by extraction using petroleum ether and the solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) method, respectively, followed by GC-MS analysis. Cheese was produced, from C and T animals separately, twice during the period of terpenes oral administration. Terpenes contents and chemical properties of the produced cheeses were investigated. Limonene and α-pinene were found in all blood and milk samples of the T group after a lag-phase of 2 days, while β-caryophyllene was detected in few plasma samples and in all milk samples. None of the terpenes was traced in blood and milk of C animals. The contents of cheese, in dosed terpenes, presented a more complicated pattern suggesting terpenes non-credible as biomarkers. We conclude terpenes can be used as biomarkers for authentification of ewes’ milk, but further research is required on factors affecting their transfer to dairy products from grazing diets.