Join the Chemical Contaminants and Residues in Food Community



Community Terms of Reference

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The Contaminants in Food Community was formed to identify, prioritize and support development of methodologies for trace level chemical analyses in foods. 

Chemical contaminant analytes may include but are not limited to trace levels of pesticides, veterinary drugs, banned food dyes, industrial chemicals (e.g., acrylamide, perchlorate, benzene), radionuclides (e.g., cesium-134, iodine-131, strontium-90), toxic elements (e.g., arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, methylmercury) and persistent organic pollutants (e.g., polybrominated diphenyl ethers, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Significant interest has already led to the creation of subgroups in pesticides, veterinary drugs, metals and analysis of unknowns. Members have shown particular interest in better methods for the analysis of honey and seafood.

The Community seeks members internationally including global representatives from governments, academia, producers, processors, distributors, importers and exporters, working together to develop analytical standards of excellence in their areas of expertise. The Community will serve as a primary resource for timely knowledge exchange, networking and high quality laboratory information for all stakeholders.

The Community will work with other professional organizations to champion the best methods for single laboratory, inter-laboratory or collaborative study.

Professionals involved in the production, distribution or analysis of foods may join the Community by contacting one of the Chairs. Most communications within the Community do not require in-person meetings. Electronic (conference calls and internet) communications are more efficient and address most concerns in time commitment, travel funding restrictions, and international time zone limitations. Electronic mail is also used but the creation of new subgroups and growth of the Community (and email inbox overload) demands the online forum approach.
Face-to-face meetings and conference calls are also held in conjunction with other professional meetings (regional and national) as well as appropriate scientific and trade association meetings. The first face-to-face meeting was held at the AOAC International meeting in September 2007.

Once community members have identified specific method needs and significant support for method development and validation, a committee of experts will be established to develop and validate the most appropriate method/s. Interlaboratory studies may involve the analysis of pesticides, metals, radioactivity, antibiotics, animal drugs, and other chemical contaminants. Those methods demonstrating sufficient accuracy, precision, and selectivity will be recommended for publication and/or collaborative study.

Developing Methods for Analysis of Contaminants in Foods

As a community, the Chemical Contaminants and Residues in Food Community will guide and supervise the development and validation of analytical methods for trace level contaminants in foods that are of the highest priority to the food contaminant community. This process ensures confidence and acceptability of analytical results by governments and industry worldwide. In addition, developing more accurate, repeatable, and reliable methods for the analysis of contaminants in foods ensures product quality, uniform enforcement of government tolerances, and compliance with export/import requirements.

Issues and Needs

Given the complexity of the Chemical Contaminant in Foods Analytical Community ranging from pesticides and antibiotics to metals and radionuclides, the needs, method priorities, and scientific expertise may differ somewhat for each discipline. However, the community has identified issues and needs that cut across all areas.

  • Need for validating new methods. New methods are needed to address emerging safety concerns including antibiotics in imported seafood, residues of newly registered pesticides, industrial chemicals, and persistent organic pollutants. In addition, new methods are needed that screen for multiple analytes and multiple classes of chemicals in a single analysis. Single-laboratory validation and Peer-Verified MethodsSM are essential to meet the immediate needs of the community in a timely manner.
  • Need to employ innovation. New methods are needed that utilize state-of-the-art instrumentation and nanotechnology. Methods are needed that provide better answers at lower levels with superior selectivity in less time. Confidence in the applicability of these methods to the communities’ varying needs depends on carefully carried out and reviewed validations. Acceptance of these methods across regulatory communities depends on the verifiable laboratory-to-laboratory performance demonstrated by a collaborative study.
  • Need for more sensitive methods. Regulators evaluating data to determine risk and safe residue levels for regulatory purposes need accurate and precise measurements of a wide range of chemistries at parts-per-billion levels and lower. Statistical evaluations of these data depend heavily on the performance measures obtained through interlaboratory collaborations.
  • Need for more selective methods. Officials taking regulatory actions that must withstand legal scrutiny need methods that comply with the most stringent of analytical standards. Advances in mass spectrometry enable chemists to quantitate and ensure the identity of analytes in a single analysis, yet few of these methods have undergone multilaboratory validation.
  • Need for confidence in analytical results. In countries around the world, government entities at every level need reliable analytical methods to make science-based decisions and trust each other’s data. The food industry and its worldwide distribution network need analytical methods that ensure their products will meet standards of quality and the expectations of the intended market. Method priorities must be determined, acceptance criteria defined, and the methods that meet defined criteria must be collaboratively studied to provide a level of confidence acceptable to governments and industry.
  • Need for internationally recognized methods. Companies doing business internationally need analytical methods that are accepted worldwide to facilitate trade.
  • Need for reliable analytical methods as part of emergency preparedness. When analytical methods are needed to test for chemical analytes in an emergency situation, laboratories must often react by using in-house or unproven methods in response to those emergencies. Long-term planning and a systematic approach of setting method priority areas, finding best methods, and validating these methods will enable laboratories to respond more effectively in emergency situations.


last updated: 8/4/2018 jmc        
webmaster: Jo Marie Cook