In an article published on January 23, 2020, the non-governmental organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced the launch of a proficiency testing program for laboratories that provide services for measuring heavy metal concentrations in foods. The program is aimed at helping stakeholders such as “retailers, food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and others to identify laboratories that are capable of measuring arsenic, cadmium, and lead at levels in the low parts per billion (ppb).” The organization writes that testing should be done using equipment and methods that are sensitive enough to both protect public health and to avoid business disruptions. Specifically, EDF writes that testing should be “conducted with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) equipment that has a sensitivity similar to that in FDA’s [(Food and Drug Administration)] Elemental Analytical Method 4.7 (EAM 4.7).”

The effort is being made possible by the Baby Foods Council and being led by EDF. Samples of spiked vegetable purees with known heavy metal concentrations will be sent to laboratories for them to analyze within four to six weeks. Their results with then be evaluated, scored, and shared with the Baby Foods Council. Companies and laboratories interested in participating in the program can request to participate by February 15, 2020.

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EDF (January 23, 2020). “When it comes to testing heavy metals in food, the result is only as good as the lab.”