In an article published on February 7, 2017 the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) reports on the need for guidelines to assess compliance of canned vegetables with legislative limits on heavy metals. “Even though metal cans are mostly coated with resins to protect food coming . . . [into] contact with metal, metal cans can be a source of contamination and the occurrence of toxic trace elements in canned food is an issue of concern,” the JRC explains. In its role as European Union Reference Laboratory on Heavy Metals (EURL-HM), the JRC recently organized a proficiency test focusing on the determination of total arsenic, inorganic arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and tin in canned peas. 127 laboratories, including National Reference Laboratories (NRLs), from 36 countries participated in the proficiency test. The exercise revealed that most laboratories lacked guidance documents for the analysis of the canned food. 54% of the participating laboratories analyzed the drained product and 46% of laboratories examined the solid/liquid composite. This led to different conclusions about whether the canned peas should be allowed in the European market or not. The JRC thus concludes that it is “of utmost importance to have clear sample preparation guidelines to arrive to a harmonized assessment whether a sample is compliant or not.”

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JRC (February 7, 2017). “Need for guidelines to assess compliance with legislative limits on trace elements in canned vegetables.


Fiamegos, Y., et al. (2016). “Determination of toxic trace elements in canned vegetables. The importance of sample preparation.TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry 85(B):57-66.