In the contaminants laboratory we carry out analyses for undesirable substances in feed, fish and other seafood.

The analysis results help to map the content of illegal pharmaceuticals, legal pharmaceuticals, pesticide residues and different classes of environmental toxins. The laboratory’s instruments are state-of-the-art, and include several highly advanced and specific analysis instruments. The main principle is chromatography, i.e. the separation of substances in a column which either a gas or a liquid is pushed through. The analytes are then separated and identified in an analyser. We distinguish between LC (liquid chromatography) and GC (gas chromatography) when describing the techniques we use.

We separate our main activities into three subject areas: organic environmental toxins, pesticides, and control of pharmaceutical residues in farmed fish.

Organic environmental toxins

Environmental toxins are defined as toxic and persistent to environmental degradation, and they accumulate in animals and plants over time. We currently have many analytical methods for determining organic environmental toxins, and the most well-known environmental toxins we analyse are dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs, DDTs, brominated flame retardants, furans, PAHs, PFOS/PFAS and colouring agents. The analytical results help to extend our basic knowledge about the feed and seafood situation.


Both feed and seafood are analysed for pesticide residues. The analyses provide basic knowledge about how much of the pesticides that were previously used (and that are now banned) can still be found in the environment and in the seafood. The analyses also reveal whether pesticides that are still in use accumulate in the food chain, and thereby in our seafood. The methods also identify which pesticide residues are found in fish feed and whether these are found in farmed fish.

Control of the use of pharmaceuticals and residues in farmed fish

In order to ensure that farmed fish for human consumption do not contain residues of illegal pharmaceuticals or legal pharmaceuticals in concentrations that are harmful to human health, Norway has implemented a control system that complies with the international guidelines that apply in this area. A maximum residue limit (MRL) often apply to pharmaceuticals. We analyse farmed fish from all over Norway, both as composite samples and as individual samples. The monitoring programme for pharmaceuticals, illegal substances, and contaminants in farmed fish (Directive 96/23) uses ten analytical methods that all have LODs (limit of detection) far below the applicable MRL values.

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