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Can I get a burger with some lead, chromium, mercury and arsenic, please?

Team TFS
Team TFS
burgerMeat is an essential nutritional source of protein for humans who choose to consume it and can provide high biological protein, vitamins, and essential minerals such as iron and zinc. People that are vegan or vegetarian may need to supplement their diet in order to obtain vital nutrients and protein which needed to maintain their health.

Just like with other foods, the safety of meats products is crucial. Our meat supply is susceptible to being contaminated with pesticides, veterinary drugs, heavy metals and bacteria. Bacteria, like e-coli, can be killed by high-temperature cooking. but the other contaminants cannot.

Industrialization has contributed to the accumulation of heavy metals in the environment. Water, soil and vegetation polluted with heavy metals can eventually lead to heavy metals in our food supply. So how do metals end up in meat? From the polluted water supply where the animal drinks, from the polluted soil and vegetation, that the animal grazes on, contaminated animal feed, etc. All of these scenarios can lead to meat being contaminated with heavy metals.  Heavy metals like lead, chromium, mercury and arsenic in meats pose a serious problem to humans because of their toxic nature, even in small quantities. Therefore, testing of meats for heavy metals is critical for human welfare.

ICP-MS is a powerful analytical tool for the analysis of trace elements in a wide variety of sample types, offering the selectivity and sensitivity needed for meat analysis. For ICP-MS analysis, it essential that the sample be in liquid form. For this reason, the sample preparation using a microwave-assisted digestion method is standard practice for the analysis of meat and meat products in most of the commercial laboratories.

In our latest application note, “Trace level quantification of multiple elements in meat and meat products using ICP-MS” we provide a methodology for the determination of a wide range of key analytes at trace levels in meat using the iCAP RQ ICP-MS system in combination with microwave-assisted digestion for sample preparation. The proposed method was validated by following AOAC 2015.01.