The presence of heavy metals in food is of concern due to their toxicity to animals and humans. These naturally occurring chemicals can occur as residues in food by a range of mechanisms such as their natural presence in the environment or contamination during food processing and storage. Their accumulation in the body can lead to harmful effects over time and their presence in foodstuffs is strictly regulated.
To ensure compliance with the regulations, effective and accurate testing is required, which can be maintained or achieved through the use of appropriate Proficiency Testing.
Heavy, toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury regularly occur in food, either as a natural contaminant or a contaminant from the production environment. Their effects are varied and far reaching, (such as inhibiting nutrient absorption in the case of cadmium).
Heavy metals are found more commonly within intensively farmed produce, and with the increasing demand for foodstuffs worldwide, there may be an increased risk of contaminants such as heavy metals. This all links to a need for accurate testing practices, which can be achieved through external proficiency testing, and internal quality control measures.