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Strengthening of Measurement Capabilities for Toxic Inorganic Elements to Support Fish & Shrimp Food Industry

Project overseer
Sutthinun Taebunpakul
Project timeline
Project status

Project description

While most people enjoy seafood, it contributes to one of the largest sources of toxic elements such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium from our diet. Therefore, it is pivotal for metrology institutes to be equipped with measurement capabilities for toxic elements and arsenic species in fish and fish products. By highlighting the importance of accurate measurements of toxic elements and metrological traceability, member institutes of the Food Safety Focus Group (FSFG) worked together to reach out to different key stakeholders.

The project consisted of several parts.

  1. A virtual workshop (31 May 2021) entitled “Horizon Scanning on the Presence of Inorganic Elements in Seafood and Their Measurements” was co-organised by the National Institute of Metrology (Thailand) (NIMT), Government Laboratory, Hong Kong, China (GLHK) and Health Sciences Authority (HSA). Experts from the National Institute of Metrology (NIM) China, Thailand Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NIMT, HSA, National Measurement Institute Australia (NMIA), GLHK, and Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS), also contributed as speakers and moderator. A total of 85 participants attended this workshop.

  2. An online-training workshop (1-4 June 2021) was also organised to share in-depth knowledge on high-accuracy techniques used for determination of toxic elements and arsenic species in seafood by Dr Chu Hei-shing (GLHK), followed by a sharing on measurement uncertainty evaluation by Ms Cheow Pui Sze (HSA). About 50 participants attended these sessions.

  3. Subsequently, a post-training activity was arranged for DEC member institutes. Seven institutes participated in this activity. They had access to practice samples (dried fish powder containing arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead) from GLHK. Additionally, certified reference materials (CRMs) for calibration and isotope spikes were provided upon request for the analysis of the practice sample. The Final Report was issued in February 2022. 

  4. Lastly, a virtual symposium (13 July 2022) entitled “Metrological Traceability in Food Measurements” was co-organised by the National Metrology Institute of Malaysia (NMIM) and Department of Chemistry Malaysia (KIMIA).  Experts from NIM China, NMIM, KIMIA, HSA, NIMT and KRISS provided their insights on the importance of metrological traceability in food analysis to improve the quality of measurement services. The symposium was attended by 165 participants from accreditation bodies, universities, private laboratories and government laboratories across Asia Pacific region.


The project has leveraged on the existing capabilities of established metrology institutes to better equip emerging institutes with relevant measurement capabilities prior to the supplementary comparison for toxic elements in seafood (APMP.QM-S19). Moreover, the workshop and symposium have raised awareness amongst the key stakeholders on the importance of accurate and traceable measurements through the use of CRMs and participation in accuracy-based proficiency testing (PT) programmes.

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