Controlling heavy metals in seafood and feed products
The European Reference Laboratory on Heavy Metals in Feed and Food (EURL-HM) - hosted by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Geel - organised in 2016 two proficiency tests for the determination of total arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and inorganic arsenic mass fractions in fish homogenates and/or palm kernel expeller. Participants were National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) from the EU Member States. Both studies confirmed the ability of NRLs to monitor maximum levels set by the EU legislation.
Palm kernel expeller (PKE) is a by-product from the crushing and expelling of oil from the kernel (seed) of palm tree fruits. Because of its medium-grade protein, high fibre, good level of residual oil and high palmitic acid, it is widely used in compound feeds for adult ruminant livestock such as dairy cow, beef cow and sheep. The European Directive 2002/32/EC on undesirable substances in animal feed set a maximum level for arsenic in PKE of 4 mg/kg relative to a feed with a moisture content of 12 %. In 2011 several notifications were introduced in the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) related to high arsenic content in PKE to be imported into a Member State. The EURL-HM, hosted by the Joint Research Centre in Geel (JRC-Geel), organised in 2016 the proficiency test EURL-HM-23 to assess the performance of National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) in determining total arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and inorganic arsenic mass fractions in PKE.
The second proficiency test (EURL-HM-22) organised by the EURL-HM was dedicated to the determination of the mass fraction of the above mentioned analytes in fish, to support the implementation of Commission Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs.
Both inter-laboratory comparisons confirmed that more than 90 % of the participating NRLs performed satisfactorily for the determination of total arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead.