Two of the core tasks of the European Union Reference Laboratory for Heavy Metals in Feed and Food (EU-RL-HM) are to provide advice to the Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) on scientific matters and to organise proficiency tests among appointed National Reference Laboratories. This article presents the results of the 12th proficiency test organised by the EU-RL-HM (IMEP-112) that focused on the determination of total and inorganic arsenic in wheat, vegetable food and algae. The test items used in this exercise were: wheat sampled in a field with a high concentration of arsenic in the soil, spinach (SRM 1570a from NIST) and an algae candidate reference material. Participation in this exercise was open to laboratories from all around the world to be able to judge the state of the art of the determination of total and, more in particular, inorganic arsenic in several food commodities. Seventy-four laboratories from 31 countries registered to the exercise; 30 of them were European National Reference Laboratories. The assigned values for IMEP-112 were provided by a group of seven laboratories expert in the field of arsenic speciation analysis in food. Laboratory results were rated with z and ζ scores (zeta scores) in accordance with ISO 13528. Around 85 % of the participants performed satisfactorily for inorganic arsenic in vegetable food and 60 % did for inorganic arsenic in wheat, but only 20 % of the laboratories taking part in the exercise were able to report satisfactory results in the algae test material.
- Inorganic arsenic