Chemical elements are usually understood to mean metals. Some are indispensable to life in the form of trace elements; others may be poisonous even in very small quantities. They may be absorbed from the environment by plants, animal fodder and fish and end up unintentionally in foodstuffs. They may also be absorbed during the processing of foodstuffs such as through unsuitable earthenware. Because they may have negative effects on health (poisoning or giving rise to illnesses), threshold values have been defined for chemical elements in foodstuffs. Accurate analyses regarding these elements are therefore called for.
METAS maintains a portfolio of analyses in the trace level range. We carry out this analysis in the national reference laboratory for chemical elements on behalf of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, mainly using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).
Method validations and other comparative studies
In order to be able to continue offering our analysis at the highest level, we take part in the method validation studies organised by the EU Reference Laboratory and in the proficiency tests organised by the EU Reference Laboratory.
If necessary, we will organise or arrange proficiency tests for the cantonal laboratories.
As the national reference laboratory for chemical elements in foodstuffs, we represent Switzerland in the meetings and working groups organised by the European network. The goal of this collaboration is to foster exchange, pass on the recommendations of the EU reference laboratories and take note of the feedback from the cantonal laboratories tasked with the official controls.
We organise annual exchanges of experience in the analysis of chemical elements in foodstuffs.
The meeting of the national reference labs for toxic elements will take place on 19 November 2020. For further information, please contact this e-mail address: Elements@metas.ch
Federal Institute of Metrology
Reference laboratory for chemical elements
Last modification 08.10.2020