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Heavy Metals in Food: ICP Analysis or Time for a Detox?

Team TFS
Team TFS
heavy metal analysis in foodAs my friend has just finished his January health detox diet (link to webmd site) apparently feeling much the better for it and I was wondering about the real science behind it. During some simple web searching I became distracted by some fascinating products for performing a heavy metals detox and I will be honest I had never heard of this; but, having a keen interest in trace metal analysis I dug deeper.

Apparently, there are numerous products and treatments on the market (which I am not going to endorse here as I personally do not have evidence of their effectiveness) but what I did find was a super peer-reviewed article titled, Chelation: Harnessing and Enhancing Heavy Metal Detoxification—A Review (link to article) and, as a scientist, I found the detail well written and extremely detailed throughout its discussion of toxic and essential metals that are of public interest.

And, now turning to the other side of the coin, namely the analysis of heavy metals in food, I would like to direct your attention to an excellent downloadable notebook, titled, Food Safety Application Notes for Trace Elemental Analysis (link to download). I believe this comprehensive flipbook will be a great resource for any food safety laboratory as it contains complete methods for all the hot topic metals including arsenic speciation by IC-ICP-MS which I have blogged about before (link to previous blog post).

Regulation, as always, is a key in food safety, and the U.S.FDA (link to metals site) along with legislation information from the European Union Reference Laboratories (link to legislation site) are resources that I have turned to in the past for valuable information. There is also a great 3-minute video embedded by Natalie Thatcher, a Senior Toxicologist at EFSA (link to main page) talking about chemical contaminants in food (link to video).

Specific EU regulation on the heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury regarding maximum levels in certain foods have been established by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (link to page to download the regulation) and are well founded but they are well worth reminding ourselves about them in this current climate of food safety and now as it seems, self-detoxification.

Additional Resources

Do check out our online Food Community which is a wonderful resource that is totally dedicated to our Food and Beverage customers and features the latest on-demand webinars, videos, application notes, and more.


Is heavy metal analysis and/or speciation of interest to your laboratory? If so I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences.