Atomic absorption, an established analytical technique that has been used worldwide for decades, offers many advantages for an extended range of applications across multiple industries. The technique is increasingly being used in the food and beverage industries to ensure compliance with stringent global legislation.
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Explore this issueOctober/November 2012
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Combining flame, furnace, and vapor techniques, AA facilitates the analysis of a large number of toxic trace elements across a wide analytical range, from parts per million (ppm) down to subparts per billion (ppb). The technique can achieve the required low detection limits, and it offers maximum ease of use, sensitivity, and accuracy. These characteristics make AA an ideal choice for the analysis of trace elements in foodstuffs.
Approximately 72 trace elements are required for the proper functioning of the human body. Phosphorus is needed for muscle and tissue growth, and calcium is critical for normal cell operation. Small amounts of zinc and manganese are also required for hormone production and enzyme function. Unlike most vitamins and minerals, trace elements are needed in extremely low quantities, and deficiency or excess of these elements can have a negative impact on the overall health of the human body.
Certain trace elements are toxic, including arsenic, mercury, and lead, and their consumption has been associated with serious health problems. Exposure to harmful trace elements occurs most commonly through ingestion of food that has been contaminated during production.
Increasing public awareness places pressure on producers and suppliers of food and beverages to ensure product quality and safeguard consumer health. Toward that end, global regulatory bodies have introduced stringent legislation to control trace elements in food products.