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Inorganic Arsenic - Implementation of
a New Method according to DIN-Draft
For the determination of inorganic arsenic in food, GALAB offers the new DIN procedure. The norm draft DIN EN 16802:2014-11 describes a method for the determination of inorganic arsenic in food of marine origin and of plant origin using anion exchange HPLC-ICP-MS after water bath extraction. With this method, the sum of inorganic arsenic compounds consisting of arsenites As(III) and arsenates As(V), is detected.

Arsenic can be found in different chemical forms, not all of them having the same toxicity. The highly toxic and carcinogenic inorganic compounds are present in soil, water and food of plant origin, e.g. rice. Ingested inorganic arsenic is methylated in living organisms. As a result, organic arsenic compounds are synthesised, like arsenobetain – the major arsenic compound in fish – which is not considered to be toxic.

For the determination of inorganic arsenic according to the DIN draft, As(III) and AS(V) are extracted under heated conditions with diluted nitric acid and a hydrogen peroxide solution. Total inorganic arsenic is oxidised to As(V) and separated from other arsenic compounds by anion exchange HPLC. As(V) is detected with the element specific detector of ICP-MS with a limit of quantification of 0.01 mg/kg.

Rice plants in particular absorb arsenic from soil and water. The German BfR (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) has assessed the risk of ingestion of arsenic from rice and comes to the conclusion that a health hazard in regard to risk of cancer is possible and that the contents of arsenic in food should be reduced to an inevitable minimum (ALARA principle).

Codex Alimentarius has been working for a couple of years on a Code of Practice for the prevention and minimisation of arsenic in rice. Based on these studies, the EU has construed a regulation (2015/1006) with maximum limits for various rice products (see table). Further data is collected in monitoring programmes to follow up contamination of processed foods.

Table: Maximum limits for inorganic arsenic in Regulation EC No 1881/2006:

3.5 inorganic Arsenic (Sum of As(III) and As(V))
3.5.1 Non-parboiled milled rice (polished or white rice) 0.20 mg/kg
3.5.2 Parboiled rice and husked rice 0.25 mg/kg
3.5.3 Rice waffles, rice wafers, rice cracker and rice cakes 0.30 mg/kg
3.5.4 Rice destined for the production of food for infants and young children 0.10 mg/kg