206-632-6206 info@brooksapplied.com

Food, Beverage, & Supplement Analytical Services

Brooks Applied Labs offers analytical services for heavy metals and elemental speciation for the food, beverage, and supplement industries with some of the lowest quantitation limits commercially available.  With over a decade of experience – ranging from authoring the AOAC 2015.01 method for heavy metals testing in foods, helping certify a new reference material for heavy metals and arsenic species as part of an international collaboration, to being one of the first commercial laboratories in the US to be deemed highly proficient in heavy metals testing by the Baby Food Council – clients can trust the quality of the results we provide. 


Some of the services we offer include: 

Heavy Metals Analysis

The presence of trace levels of heavy metals in food, beverages, and dietary supplements is of growing concern as people become ever more demanding about the quality of the products they consume, and as regulatory agencies look to develop lower action levels for these contaminants. 

Many natural ingredients accumulate heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium from the environment (i.e., the soil, water, and air), but determining exactly how much is in a product requires sensitive analytical methods.  Equally important, since background levels can often be in the low parts-per-billion range, laboratories that are not experienced with the proper analytical techniques can easily contaminate samples and report inaccurate concentrations. 

Using the latest in microwave digestion and triple quadrupole ICP-MS technologies, we provide heavy metals testing services to companies that manufacture, distribute, and retail a variety of consumer products.  The methods we offer are consistent with those used by regulatory agencies and have been rigorously evaluated as part of our accreditation to the ISO 17025 standard, our participation in the certification of new reference materials, and the proficiency testing arranged by the Baby Food Council.

California Proposition 65 Analysis

Since 1986, when Californians approved an initiative to address growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals informally known as Proposition 65 or “Prop 65”, the list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm has grown to more than 800 unique substances. 

California Proposition 65 requires businesses (manufacturers, distributors, & retailers) to notify consumers through proper labeling if their products contain any of the listed chemicals above what has been determined to be a safe level of daily exposure (known as “Safe Harbor” levels).  Of particular concern in foods, beverages, and supplements is the presence of the heavy metals arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury (often called “the Big Four”).   

Brooks Applied Labs offers businesses heavy metals analyses to certify that the levels in their products are below the limits established by Prop 65.  We also offer metals speciation analyses to differentiate between what have been deemed safer metals species (e.g., the arsenobetaine commonly found in fish) and more toxic species such as inorganic arsenic or methylmercury. 

Given that Prop 65 Safe Harbor limits are expressed not in terms of concentrations but rather in permissible intake levels (micrograms per day), ensuring that products are compliant can require extremely low quantitation limits (especially for those with large serving sizes).  Brooks Applied Labs is experienced with these considerations and has designed our methods precisely for these purposes. 

Inorganic Arsenic Analysis

While a variety of products contain detectable concentrations of arsenic, not all forms of arsenic are considered toxic or subject to regulatory limits.  Over two dozen arsenic species have been reported in various foods to date.  To ensure that products which are sold are safe for consumption but not needlessly removed from the market because of the presence of harmless forms of arsenic, differentiating between toxic and nontoxic forms via speciation analysis is critical. 

Of primary concern is the category known as “inorganic arsenic,” which is classified as a known human carcinogen by the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO IARC).  In recognition of their health effects, inorganic arsenic compounds are subject to regulations promulgated or administered by the US FDA, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), and the European Commission, among others. 

Brooks Applied Labs offers specialized testing services to distinguish inorganic arsenic from the dozens of other known arsenicals in a wide range of sample types, including:  

  • dietary supplements and raw ingredients 
  • food (e.g., rice, fish, fruits, vegetables, and seaweed) 
  • beverages (e.g., fruit juices, bottled waters, beer, wine, and plant-based drinks) 
Methylmercury Analysis

It is well known that mercury is a potent toxin that can severely impair the human nervous system, so monitoring mercury levels in dietary supplements, foods, and other consumer products has long been a priority.  While demonstrating that natural products are free of mercury is important, testing for the specific form known as methylmercury is often recommended since it is a powerful neurotoxin. 

Mercury that reaches rivers, lakes, or the ocean can be converted by microorganisms into methylmercury, which is bioaccumulative in plants and wildlife.  The methylmercury concentrations of larger fish can be more than a million times greater than the surrounding water, and individuals are potentially at risk of health effects when consuming . 

More critically, methylmercury is especially detrimental to the neurological development of fetuses, and it is recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding be selective about the types and quantity of fish they consume to avoid those commonly high in methylmercury. 

Brooks Applied Labs is recognized as a world leader in analyzing for methylmercury concentrations and has decades of experience providing those services. 

    Brooks Applied Labs offers these and other specialty analyses with expedited turnaround times and some of the lowest quantitation limits in the industry.  Please contact us today to discuss your analytical needs with one of our scientists!   


    On February 8, 2022, IEH’s Dr. Donald Zink and BAL’s Ben Wozniak hosted a live webinar addressing recent events, regulatory standards, and risks associated with heavy metals and other contaminants in food processing.

    Topics Covered

    • Staying Ahead of the Curve: Heavy Metals Regulatory Standards
    • Why Food Companies Need to Addressing High Levels of Contaminants in Products
    • How to Mitigate Risks of Toxic Elements Contamination
    • Comparing Historical Findings to Current Detection Limit Requirements
    • What’s Happening: Current Events and Recent Incidents Involving Toxic Elements

    Webinar Recording