Arsenic and other heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, and mercury are all considered toxic and have adverse health effects in human metabolism. Accumulation of heavy metals in the food chain can occur by bio-concentration e.g. from water or the food source. Main intake sources of heavy metals are fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts and cereals. In the case of lead, drinking water is also of major importance. Since the toxicological effects of heavy metals and arsenic on babies and infants are of special relevance, the safety of baby food is also in the spotlight.  Heavy metals testing in food has thus become a very significant aspect of food safety.

heavy metals testing


  • Lead has a very low acute toxicity. Most essential long-term effects are its neurotoxicity for infants and its effects on the cardiovascular tissue of adults.
  • Cadmium is primarily nephrotoxic and may cause bone demineralisation.
  • Mercury mainly occurs as methyl mercury in fish and seafood and is extremely toxic on the nervous system. Other foods usually contain less toxic inorganic mercury.
  • Arsenic also occurs in organic and inorganic compounds, of which the latter is clearly more toxic and may cause cancer of skin, lungs and the urinary tract.

Regulatory bodies around the world have set maximum limits for lead, cadmium and mercury in different food groups such as meat, fish, seafood, cereals, vegetables, fruits and products thereof, fats and oils, milk, baby food and infant formula.

Heavy metals testing in food include:

  • Leadheavy metals testing
  • Mercury
  • Methyl mercury
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Trivalent and Hexavalent Chromium
  • Tin
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Nickel
  • Selenium

heavy metals testing

Some common food matrices for heavy metal testing include.

  • Fish, shellfish and crustaceans
  • Meat
  • Baby food and infant formula
  • Dairy products (milk, baby milk, cheese etc.)
  • Cereals & Cereal Products
  • Fish and vegetable oils
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Wines and alcoholic beverages
  • Non-alcoholic drinks
  • Dietary supplements
  • Other food and feed

Analytical Technologies

We at AES Laboratories, use the latest analytical techniques for determination of heavy metals in food.  Our experts have long term experience in analyzing metals and elements. Microwave digestion techniques are used for sample preparation ensuring proper sample digestion without recovery loss. Heavy metal analysis is carried out using ICP-MS instrument.