Food safety analysis

RPS has a wealth of experience in food and safety analysis, and we offer a wide range of testing options for our clients. We can inform them about potentially hazardous levels of contaminants and pesticides in their products and to satisfy their regulatory requirements.


It is important to monitor the levels of contaminants and pesticides in food, as some of the compounds present in them can potentially have health implications for those consuming these products. As an example, acrylamide was listed as a potential carcinogen in the US in 2019. Glyphosate is also a putative carcinogen.

RPS has established a strong reputation over 15 years in the analysis of pesticides and other emerging contaminants in foods, beverages and animal feeds. These also include acrylamide, glyphosate and Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QACs). Our focus on new and emerging contaminants, together with our extensive knowledge of EU/UK legislative requirements helps us to meet the needs of our clients effectively. All of our methods are designed to meet the EU/UK legislative requirements for a specific compound.

As a UKAS accredited laboratory, our clients can have complete confidence in the results we generate.

Analysing contaminants

Contaminants are substances that have been unintentionally added to food, as by-products of the manufacturing process either from contact with packaging or being incorporated into substances that form part of the final product. An example of a contaminant is acrylamide, which is formed by a reaction of amino acids and sugars, usually during baking and frying. As contaminants typically have negative impacts on the quality of food, they may pose a health risk. Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) have been set out in legislation, and food suppliers and manufacturers are expected to take steps to ensure their removal.

Contaminants that we analyse include:

  • Acrylamide
  • Quinine in tonic water
  • Bisphenol A in baby foods
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Brominated Flame Retardants
  • Aflatoxins in animal bedding, cereals and nuts

Analysing pesticides

Pesticides are compounds that are typically applied to the raw ingredients of foodstuffs and are then incorporated into the final product. Our pesticide analysis covers food and beverages for human consumption as well as commodities destined for animals (feed).

As insects, fungi and animals are a constant threat to crop yields, the increased use of organic pesticides seems inevitable. Organic pesticides are often applied to fruit and vegetables before and after harvesting, which can later be found in water sources via run-off from agricultural land as well as on the land and the crop itself. Drinking water limits and food Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) are set at very low limits to avoid risk of toxicity to humans and animals.

The pesticides we analyse include:

  • Glyphosate and AMPA
  • Dithiocarbamates
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Fipronil
  • ETU/PTU
  • Chlormequat and Mepiquat
  • Chlorate and Perchlorate

Our expertise

RPS has a wealth of experience in food and safety analysis, particularly in new and emerging contaminants. Our purpose-built state-of-the-art Bedford Laboratory is well-equipped to help us constantly evolve our analysis in response to new compounds. We can offer rapid turnarounds and produce an easily understood report to our clients. Our analyses are also targeted and fully-quantified, allowing us to offer highly accurate results, at very low levels.

RPS hold fixed and flexible scope accreditations for pesticides to ISO IEC 17025 in compliance with OECD and SANCO/10684/2009 guidelines. Our flexible-scope of accreditation allows us to report results as UKAS-accredited on an ongoing basis, meaning we can be agile in meeting our client’s needs.

Our accreditations in food safety analysis

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