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Pure Appl. Chem., 2012, Vol. 84, No. 2, pp. 169-179

Published online 2012-01-06

Trace element speciation in food: State of the art of analytical techniques and methods

Rola Bou Khouzam1, Joanna Szpunar2, Michel Holeman2 and Ryszard Lobinski3,2*

1 Analysis of Pesticides and Organic Pollutants Laboratory, LAPPO-Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission-CNRS-L, Airport Main Road, 11-8281, Beirut, Lebanon
2 Laboratoire de Chimie Analytique Bio-inorganique et Environnement, CNRS/UPPA, UMR 5254, Hélioparc, 2, Av. Pr. Angot, F-64053 Pau, France
3 Department of Chemistry, Warsaw University of Technology, Noakowskiego 3, Warsaw, 00-664, Poland

Abstract: Some elements in food are notoriously toxic, whereas others are considered essential for human health. Information on the exact chemical form in which an element is present in food is of paramount importance to determine the safety and nutritional quality of food. This critical review discusses the state of the art of analytical approaches to speciation of trace elements in food products. The topics addressed include (i) responding to regulations concerning some toxic elements (As, Hg, Sn); (ii) quality control of food and feed supplements; and (iii) characterization, in terms of element speciation, of nutritional plants (natural and genetically modified) and food supplements produced by biotechnology. The maturity of analytical techniques allowing the determination of individual well-defined metal species is highlighted. On the other hand, the recent developments of multidimensional hyphenated techniques and the democratization of electrospray high-resolution mass spectrometry (Orbitrap) start permitting fine characterization of element speciation in natural products.