Integrated Radiometric and Complementary Techniques for Mixed Contaminants and Residues in Foods

Open for proposals

Project Type

Coordinated Research Project

Project Code




Approved Date



3 - Active - Ongoing

Start Date


Expected End Date


Participating Countries

Papua New Guinea
South Africa
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia


Risk management of contaminants in food and associated matrices such as water and feed is currently based on health risk assessments considering data from studies on individual hazards. However, humans are simultaneously exposed to a large number of contaminants/residues through consumption of food and drinking water (Alexander, et al., 2008) and therefore risk assessment should depend on data on mixed contaminants/residues. However, systematic programmes for monitoring a mixture of contaminants/ residues are still lacking in MSs and their laboratories lack analytical techniques to test such “cocktails” that are individually a food safety and therefore public health, and trade concern.  Use of agricultural inputs such as veterinary drugs and pesticides in food production is inevitable to many MSs due to rampant animal and plants diseases and pests that should be controlled to ensure food security. Residues of these inputs co-occur with incidental contaminants such as mycotoxins, persistent organic pollutants and harmful adulterants such as but not limited to melamine in milk powder and sudan-1 in chili-powder raising consumer concerns.  Open air agricultural production predisposes food commodities to different and possibly unsafe levels of contaminants/ residues and related toxicants. Crops and livestock alike are exposed to industrial and environmental effluents and air pollutants in addition to agrochemicals and naturally occurring toxins such as mycotoxins among others. Levels of air pollutants are increasing especially in urban and peri-urban farming systems worldwide and thus air pollutants are a major source of particulate contaminants that can accumulate to toxic levels in edible portions of plants/crops (Poole et al., 2003).  This implies that products from open environment production may contain a mixture of contaminants/ residues. Monitoring of mixed contaminants/residues is not practiced due to lack of necessary multi-class analytical methods. These hazards are numerous and their physico-chemical properties diverse. Food matrices also vary and are complex. Thus robust, sensitive/selective, precise and cost-effective multi-analyte/class techniques are necessary if the practice of controlling mixed contaminants/residues is to take effect among many FAO/IAEA MSs. Though challenging to laboratories, such techniques, if well researched, as proposed in this CRP with the leveraging the advantages of nuclear, isotopic and complementary techniques, should present numerous benefits such as: (1) ‘information-rich’ measurements covering different classes of residues, contaminants and possibly adulterants; (2) shorter sample preparation/analysis time; (3) high sample throughput; (4) less laboratory consumables. Therefore, the sooner research is done to address these challenges and exploit the benefits, the better it will be for public health and trade in MSs. Through the above mentioned research, this CRP aims at strengthening MS analytical laboratories and national chemical/natural residue monitoring programs thus contributing to the improvement of food safety, public health and where possible international trade. New multi-class analytical methods will be developed (including improved environmentally friendly sample preparation techniques) validated and transferred amongst MS laboratories. The CRP will also contribute to the knowledge-base on risk assessment regarding mixed contaminants as well as work on AMR, through development of some multi-antimicrobial analytical methods that will permit surveillance to ensure their prudent use by MSs 


To enhance Member State food and environmental safety control systems and risk assessment programmes through improvement of laboratory capabilities needed to gather reliable data on mixed contaminants/residues in foods as well as antimicrobial use pertaining to the development of antimicrobial resistance

Specific objectives

To investigate the effective application of newly researched methods in the routine surveillance of mixed contaminants/residues in foods and where possible establishment of base/reference “fingerprints” of food matrices that may contain a mixture/cocktail of contaminants and/or residues

To research the development, optimization/adaptation, and validation of analytical methods for mixed contaminants/residues in foods and associated matrices

To research the development of innovative generic sample preparation techniques for mixed contaminants/residues in foods and associated matrices

To investigate the development, optimization/adaptation, validation and application of sensitive and selective multi-antimicrobial analytical methods useful for monitoring residues of substances associated with development of antimicrobial resistance

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