COT statement on iodine in cows' milk (September 1997)

The COT was asked to advise on the public health implications of the levels of iodine measured in cows' milk during the course of a survey carried out for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during 1995/1996.

The Committee's conclusions and recommendations are:

We consider that there is a paucity of data which might allow the accurate determination of the daily intake of iodine that can be safely ingested by infants and children over long periods. We encourage research to address this point. Nevertheless, we take reassurance from a study in which 1-11 year old children were given doses of iodide up to 1000 µg/day over a period of four months without signs of toxicity. Since this dose corresponds to 59-94 µg/kg bw/day in children aged 1½-4½, over three times the JECFA Provisional Maximum Tolerable Daily Intake, we consider that the intake of iodine (23 µg/kg bw/day in winter, 11 µg/kg bw/day in summer) at the concentrations that have been found in cows' milk is unlikely to pose a risk to health.

We recommend that the monitoring of iodine concentrations in cows' milk should continue. In addition, we encourage investigation of the bioavailability of iodine in iodophors and of the forms of iodine in infant formulas.