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Training Course on Analytical Methods to Detect and Control Organic Contaminants in Food

16 – 27 May 2022
Virtual event
Vienna, Austria
Event code: EVT2103919

The control of unwanted chemicals in food, such as residues of pesticides or veterinary drugs used in food production, or natural contaminants such as mycotoxins, remains an area of high importance to Member States. Adequate monitoring and surveillance procedures must be in place to enable rapid and effective response to food safety incidents and emergencies. To be effective, a food control system must include the ability to apply targeted monitoring using validated, quality-controlled analytical laboratory methods to detect, quantify and confirm the presence of contaminants in food products. The scientific data generated enables decision makers to apply risk-based controls to protect consumer health, facilitate trade and respond effectively to food safety incidents and emergencies.

A variety of analytical techniques can be applied to test food commodities for contaminants. These include both nuclear-related and non-nuclear physic-chemical techniques. Amongst the most useful and widely applied techniques are those employing liquid- or gas-chromatography with detection by triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry. These techniques provide the sensitivity, precision and the capability for confirmation of identity of a target analyte necessary for food control. Expertise in the principles of the instrumentation and practical application of the analytical methods is a prerequisite for the generation of reliable results and data.

This virtual workshop will strengthen the capabilities in Member States to apply chromatographic-mass spectrometric techniques to help in the routine control of food safety and to respond to food safety related incidents or emergencies by providing data on the presence and levels of targeted contaminants in food commodities.

A virtual training course on analytical methods to detect and control organic contaminants in food will be open for remote self-study access from 16-27 May 2022 on the IAEA NUCLEUS platform. A series of complementary short “live” webinars will also be held during the course, and finally a ‘live’ online question and answer sessions will be held on 27th May.

The objective of this training course is to strengthen Member States’ surveillance and research laboratory capacities in using chromatography - mass spectrometry techniques to detect, quantify and confirm the presence of organic chemicals such as pesticides and veterinary drug residues in foods. This capability is necessary both for routine control of agrochemical residues and chemical food contaminants in food, and for response to food safety incidents and emergencies, when detection and identification of the cause is a major priority.

The training is intended to provide the underlying principles, hands-on experience and practical training in the analysis of food samples for the detection and control of food contaminants.  The two-weeks programme will consist of recorded lectures, video presentations of practical laboratory operations and ‘live’ online question and answer sessions to cover the following topics:

  • The application of gas- and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometric detection for the control of food residues and contaminants using multiple analyte methods
  • Principles of the use of stable isotope-labelled internal standards to improve method performance
  • Sample preparation and treatment
  • Optimization of instrumental analysis
  • Data treatment
  • Laboratory quality control procedures to produce reliable data

Examples of method protocols will be provided to course participants, to foster adoption of the demonstrated methods in their own laboratories.


Research and technical personnel from food control or research laboratories in IAEA Member States interacting with the Food Safety and Control subprogramme in the field of testing of food contaminant control are eligible for application. Hands-on experience on operation of chromatography instruments with mass spectrometric detection for the control of food contaminants and residues would be an advantage.

All persons wishing to participate in the event must be designated by an IAEA Member State. Information and nomination details are being disseminated to IAEA Member State National Authorities (e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Permanent Mission to the IAEA or National Atomic Energy Authority) through official channels. The relevant participation application form should be forwarded to the competent national authority for onward transmission to the IAEA by 1st May 2022.

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