The objective of this study was to investigate the transfer of volatile terpenes from caraway seed and oregano plant essential oils into cow's milk through respiratory and gastrointestinal exposure. Essential oils have potential applications as feed additives because of their antimicrobial properties, but very little work exists on the transfer of their volatile compounds into milk. Lactating Danish Holstein cows with duodenum cannula were used. Gastrointestinal exposure was facilitated by infusing the essential oils, mixed with deodorized sesame oil, into the duodenum cannula. Two levels were tested for each essential oil. Respiratory exposure was facilitated by placing the animal in a chamber together with a sponge soaked in the essential oils. All exposures were spread over 9 h. Milk samples were collected immediately before and after exposure, as well as the next morning. Twelve monoterpenes and 2 sesquiterpenes were analyzed in essential oils and in milk samples using dynamic headspace sampling and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. In the essential oils, almost all of the terpenes, were detected in both essential oils at various levels. For caraway, the monoterpenes limonene, carvone, and carvacrol were most abundant; in oregano, the monoterpenes carvacrol and p-cymene were most abundant For almost all treatments, an immediate effect was detected in milk, whereas little or no effect was detected in milk the following day. This suggests that the transfer into milk of these volatile terpenes is fast, and that the milk will not be influenced when treatment is discontinued. Principal component analysis was used to elucidate the effect of the treatments on the terpene profile of the milk. Terpene content for treatment milk samples was characterized by the same terpenes found in the treatment essential oil used for that animal, regardless of pathway of exposure. The terpenes appear to be transferred unaltered into the milk, regardless of the pathway of exposure. Volatile terpenes in essential oils, which could influence milk flavor, are transferred into milk via both gastrointestinal and respiratory exposure.
Journal of Dairy Science, 2013, Vol 96, Issue 7, p. 4235-4241