Mal J Nutr 20(3): 377 - 391, 2014

Determination of the Presence and Levels of Heavy Metals and Other Elements in Raw and Commercial Edible Bird Nests
Chen JXJ, Lim PKC, Wong SF & Mak JW

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Heavy metals and other contaminants in food have been a concern to food industries, consumers and governing authorities. The purpose of this study was to determine the levels of heavy metals and other elements in edible bird nests (EBNs).
Methods: Raw and processed (commercial) EBNs were used in the study. Raw EBNs were collected directly from five house farms in Peninsular Malaysia - Kuala Sanglang (Kedah), Pantai Remis (Perak), Kluang (Johor), Kota Bharu (Kelantan) and Kajang (Selangor). Processed EBNs were purchased from five Chinese traditional medicinal shops located in Peninsular Malaysia. The levels of 32 elements were determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry and findings of the study were compared to the maximum regulatory limits set by the Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) for EBNs.
Results: Of the seven elements with maximum regulatory limits (As, Cd, Pb, Hg, Sn, Cu, Fe), one raw EBN was detected with mercury level of 70.180 ppb which was above the SIRIM permissible limit of 50 ppb. All the EBNs had iron levels above the SIRIM permissible limit of 30 ppb. The levels of the other 25 elements with no maximum regulatory limits (Ca, Mg, Na, K, P, Co, Cr, Mn, Mo, Se, Zn, Ag, Ba, Be, Bi, B, Li, Ni, Sb, Sr, Ti, U, V, Al, Zr) were also determined.
Conclusion: The data obtained for the 25 elements with no permissible limits can serve as baseline data for further studies to establish their maximum regulatory limits.

Keywords: Edible bird nests, heavy metal contamination, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry

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