Last month the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that a study had been carried out which showed levels of lead in imported rice more than 20 times higher than the level considered safe by the FDA, and in one case, over 100 times the level. The analyses of these rice samples, originating from countries in the Far East as well as EU countries such as Italy and the Czech Republic, were carried out at Monmouth University in New Jersey using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF).
The results were alarming as high levels of lead in rice had not been previously found either in the US or in Europe.
However, other laboratories have been unable to reproduce the results found in this study and it now appears that there were problems with the instrument used in the Monmouth University laboratory. From my researches, it would appear that the University – in common with many academic institutions – does not hold accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 for the tests carried out. A good quality system – ISO/IEC 17025 – would have highlighted the problem at an early stage and prevented the embarrassment of reporting results which have then needed to be retracted.
So, before any formal report has been issued, this situation has been rectified. Perhaps we should be asking – not only of the FDA but other regulatory bodies across the world, why they do not look into the accreditation status of laboratories carrying out and reporting such studies.
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