Arsenic and other heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, and mercury are all considered toxic and have adverse health effects in human metabolism. Accumulation of heavy metals in the food chain can occur by bio-concentration e.g. from water or the food source. Main intake sources of heavy metals are fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts and cereals. In the case of lead, drinking water is also of major importance. Since the toxicological effects of heavy metals and arsenic on babies and infants are of special relevance, the safety of baby food is also in the spotlight.
Lead has a very low acute toxicity. Most essential long-term effects are its neurotoxicity for infants and its effects on the cardiovascular tissue of adults.
Cadmium is primarily nephrotoxic and may cause bone demineralisation.
Mercury mainly occurs as methyl mercury in fish and seafood, and is extremely toxic on the nervous system. Other foods usually contain less toxic inorganic mercury.
Arsenic also occurs in organic and inorganic compounds, of which the latter is clearly more toxic and may cause cancer of skin, lungs and the urinary tract.
Regulatory bodies around the world have set maximum limits for lead, cadmium and mercury in different food groups such as meat, fish, seafood, cereals, vegetables, fruits and products thereof, fats and oils, milk, baby food and infant formulae.
How Eurofins can help
Eurofins performs heavy metal and trace element testing and analyses in numerous laboratories around the world. Different techniques are successfully implemented on a wide variety of matrices.
Along with classical atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) with graphite furnace or respectively cold vapor, ICP-OES and ICP-MS techniques are most frequently in use. To achieve the lowest detection limits to analyse trace amounts, Eurofins offers high-resolution ICP-MS (HR-ICP-MS) as a modern method for heavy metal testing. Naturally, the differentiation of organic and inorganic arsenic and mercury as well as the determination of a broad range of further metals and elements via AAS and ICP-techniques are part of our portfolio.
Being the market leader in analytical testing Eurofins offers cost-efficient ways to examine various metals and trace elements in a great variety of food and feed. Large analytical capacities, short turn-around-times and efficient services are guaranteed by our Competence Centre for the analysis of inorganic contaminants and numerous laboratories worldwide.
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