SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 066/16

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On October 23, 2015, National Health and Family Planning Commission of the Republic of China Announcement No. 7/2015 published eight national food safety standards [1], of which five relate to inorganic testing. They will become effective on March 21, 2016, and include:

  • GB 5009.11-2014 National food safety standard determination of total arsenic and inorganic arsenic in foods
  • GB 5009.17-2014 National food safety standard determination of total mercury and organic mercury in foods 
  • GB 5009.74-2014 National food safety standard method for limit test of heavy metals in food additives
  • GB 5009.75-2014 National food safety standard determination of lead in food additives
  • GB 5009.76-2014 National food safety standard determination of arsenic in food additives

The existing testing standards in China’s national food safety standard frame are:

  • GB 5009.12-2010 National food safety standard determination of lead in foods
  • GB 5009.15-2014 National food safety standard determination of cadmium in foods
  • GB 5009.16-2014 National food safety standard determination of tin in foods
  • GB 5009.93-2010 National food safety standard determination of selenium in foods
  • GB 5009.94-2012 National food safety standard determination of rare earth in plant foods
  • GB 5009.123-2014 National food safety standard determination of chromium in foods

The table below gives a summary of the main technical parameters 

Updated standards Testing items Testing methods Limit Of Quantification Sample type
GB 5009.11-2014

Total arsenic and inorganic arsenic

1st method, by ICP/MS

1st method 0.01 mg/kg Food

2nd method, hydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrophotometry (HG-AFS) 2nd method 0.04 mg/kg
3rd method, silver diethyl-dithiocarbamate method 3rd method 0.7 mg/kg

Inorganic arsenic
1st method, HPLC- atomic fluorescence spectrometry

1st method, 0.05~0.08 mg/kg
2nd method, HPLC-ICP/MS 2nd method, 0.03~0.06 mg/kg
GB 5009.12-2010


1st method, graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry 1st method 0.005 mg/kg Food

2nd method, AFS 2nd method 0.005 mg/kg
3rd method, flame atomic absorption spectrometry 3rd method 0.1 mg/kg
4th method, dithizone colorimetry 4th method 0.25 mg/kg
5th method, single sweep polarography 5th method 0.085 mg/kg
GB 5009.15-2014 Cadmium Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry 0.003 mg/kg Food
GB 5009.16-2014
1st method, HG-AFS 1st method, 2.5 mg/kg Food
2nd method, benzfluorenone colorimetric method 2nd method, 20 mg/kg
GB 5009.17-2014

Total mercury and organic mercury

1st method, atomic fluorescence spectroscopy (AFS)
1st method, 0.01 mg/kg Food

2nd method, cold atomic absorption spectrometry 2nd method, 0.007 mg/kg
Methyl mercury
HPLC-AFS method
0.025 mg/kg
GB 5009.74-2014 Limit test of heavy metals

Heavy metals (as Pb)

Na's colorimetry (Nessler’s)

Limit test Food additives
GB 5009.75-2014
1st method, dithizone chromometer method 1st method, limit test or 0.25 mg/kg Food additives
2nd method, graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry 2nd method, 0.005 mg/kg
GB 5009.76-2014 Arsenic 1st method, silver diethydithiocarbamate chromometer method
2nd method, HG-AFS
1st method, limit test 2nd method, 0.01 mg/kg Food additives
GB 5009.93-2010
1st method, HG-AFS Not defined
2nd method, fluorescence method
GB 5009.94-2012 Rare earth ICP/MS Sc 2.1 µg/kg
Y 1.1 µg/kg
La 1.4 µg/kg
Ce 0.9 µg/kg
Pr 0.7 µg/kg
Nd 0.8 µg/kg
Sm 0.5 µg/kg
Eu 0.2 µg/kg
Gd 0.5 µg/kg
Tb 0.2 µg/kg
Dy 0.3 µg/kg
Ho 0.1 µg/kg
Er 0.2 µg/kg
Tm 0.1 µg/kg
Yb 0.2 µg/kg
Lu 0.1 µg/kg
Plant food
GB 5009.123-2014 Chromium Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry 0.03 mg/kg Food

The updated inorganic standard testing methods continue to use traditional technology, like graphite furnace and flame atomic absorption spectrometry, cold atomic absorption spectrometryhydride generation atomic fluorescence spectrophotometry, alongside modern testing technologies such as HPLC-AFS, HPLC-ICP/MS. Given that the national food safety standards are mandatory, these methods and techniques must take priority in food laboratories testing foods and additives destined for the Chinese market. 

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t: 0086 21 61072711


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