Veterinary antibiotics in food, drinking water, and the urine of preschool children in Hong Kong

Na LI, Wing Kei HO, Guang-Guo YING, Wenjing DENG

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143 Citations (Scopus)


Due to the harmful effects of veterinary antibiotics (VAs) residues in food on children's health, urine samples from 31 preschool and primary school children were analyzed for 13 common VAs. Samples of raw and cooked pork, chicken, fish, milk and drinking water from the children's living areas were also analyzed for residual VAs. Urinalysis revealed one to four target antibiotics in 77.4% of the sample group, with concentrations as high as 0.36 ng/mL. Norfloxacin and penicillin had the highest detection rates (48.4% and 35.5%, respectively), with median concentrations of 0.037 and 0.13 ng/mL, respectively. The VA burden of children in HK was lower than that in Shanghai. Enrofloxacin, penicillin, and erythromycin were the most detected VAs in raw and cooked food. Only oxytetracycline was detected in terminal tap water, and none were detected in milk. Tetracycline and doxycycline hyclate were detected in organic eggs (up to 7.1 ng/g) and regular eggs (up to 6.6 ng/g), which were common in children's diets. Traditional Chinese cooking processes did not completely eliminate VAs, and the concentrations of some VAs increased, especially after frying and roasting. The estimated daily intake (EDI) results show that the contribution of dietary intake and that based on the urine concentrations of VAs were far below the acceptable daily intake (ADI). The EDIs from urine were significantly lower than those based on cooked foods. The highest level of achievement percentage (LAP) based on dietary consumption and urine concentrations were 39.7% and 1.79%, respectively, and thus current levels of exposure to VAs would not seem to pose a risk to children's health. However, harmful effects of residual VAs during developmental periods may occur with exposure to much lower doses than those considered harmful to adults, and further investigation of these emerging pollutants is urgently encouraged. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-252
JournalEnvironment International
Early online dateSept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


Li, N., Ho, K. W. K., Ying, G.-G., & Deng, W.-J. (2017). Veterinary antibiotics in food, drinking water, and the urine of preschool children in Hong Kong. Environment International, 108, 246-252.


  • Veterinary antibiotics
  • Preschool children
  • Raw and cooked food
  • Urinalysis


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