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The correlation of cadmium levels in sheep liver and kidney

Project start date: 15 February 2016
Project end date: 30 August 2018
Publication date: 30 August 2018
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb
Relevant regions: NSW, Victoria
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Meat processors have identified the potential for large economic gains from a survey to identify regions where cadmium is concentrated in adult sheep livers. Currently offal from adult sheep is treated as waste due to concerns of cadmium limit violations, which leads to significant production loss within the sheep supply chain.


The objective of this project was to find correlation of cadmium levels between liver and kidney of adult sheep. The information was needed so that a large survey based only on liver cadmium could inform on cadmium levels in kidneys.

Key findings

  • The cadmium level within liver in medium and low rainfall regions will be low, and is an extremely useful guide for kidneys as well because when one is low, so is the other.
  • When testing for cadmium in livers and kidney for markets sensitive residues, cadmium concentration above 0.5 mg/kg will have poor correlation and increase variation, and an individual test results does not necessary reflect the result of the batch.
  • These data will add to the information eventually to be obtained from the NRS surveys.

Benefits to industry

This data could support the change for Industry to use sheep kidneys and livers from certain geographical regions, instead of the current practice of discarding them. 

MLA action

Data has been shared and provided to NRS on the correlation of cadmium levels between liver and kidney, to support any changes from their national survey.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: Animal Health Australia