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Determination of heavy metals in canned vegetables. The importance of sample preparation.

This manuscript presents the outcome of a proficiency test (PT), named IMEP-118, for the determination of total As, Cd, Pb, Hg, Sn and inorganic As (iAs) mass fractions in canned food (peas in brine). The exercise was organised by the European Union Reference Laboratory for Heavy Metals in Feed and Food (EURL-HM) to support the implementation of provisions laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006, which sets maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. With this exercise a new approach was followed by the organizers, aimed at the production of a test item identical to those screened in official controls to check: (i) the analytical capabilities of participating laboratories to analyse heavy metals, in particular Sn, in canned vegetables (ii) the sample preparation approach when analysing canned or jarred vegetables, using the drained product or the solid / liquid composite and (iii) the abilities of control laboratories to assess correctly the conformity of the test item with legislation. A total of 127 participants from 36 countries registered to the exercise out of which 123 reported results back.