The European Union Reference Laboratory for Heavy Metals in Feed and Food (EURL-HM) organised a proficiency test (EURL-HM-22) for the determination of total As, Cd, Pb, Hg and inorganic As (iAs) in fish to support the Commission Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs. This PT was open only to National Reference Laboratories (NRLs).
The reference material "IAEA-436" (Tuna fish flesh homogenate) was used as test item. The finely ground dry powder material was rebottled, relabelled and dispatched to the participants. The reference values of interest were provided by the IAEA, together with an informative value for total Pb. The University of Graz (Austria) was requested to analyse the mass fraction of iAs in the material and reported a truncated value ("less than" 0.005 mg kg-1).
Forty two participants from 30 countries registered to the exercise (all EU Member States plus Iceland and Norway). Only one participant could not report results due to technical instrumental problems. Laboratory results were rated using z- (z'- for MeHg) and zeta scores in accordance with ISO 13528:2015. The following relative standard deviations for proficiency assessment (σpt) were set according to the modified Horwitz equation: 13% for total Hg and MeHg; 15% for total As; and 22% for total Cd. No scoring was provided for total Pb and iAs. More than 92% of the participating NRLs reported satisfactory results (according to the z-score) for total As, Cd, Hg and MeHg, thus confirming their ability in monitoring the maximum levels set by the European Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 for fish commodities. However, only 9 (out of 41) participants reported results for MeHg. Most of the laboratories provided realistic estimates of their measurement uncertainties.