Student Research Projects

Elemental Analysis of Children’s Name-Brand and Generic Cereals Using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry

Student Jennifer Forbes
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course CHEM 480: Modern Instrumental Analysis


Two common elemental deficiencies that humans experience are calcium and iron deficiencies. These two elements are essential to the human body and are particularly important for growth and development in children. Since the body is incapable of producing these elements through natural biochemical pathways, these elements must be obtained from the diet. In the past, many cereals were lacking in adequate concentrations of these essential elements. Today, many humans, especially children, rely on cereal as a major component of their diet and therefore must obtain these essential elements from cereal. In order to meet the daily intake requirements of the essential elements including calcium and iron, many cereals especially those targeted towards children are fortified with calcium and/or iron.
This research project aims to determine the actual concentrations of calcium and iron present in common cereals targeted for consumption by children. Since children are undergoing growth and development it is especially important to determine if the concentrations of calcium and iron are the same as what is being reported by the nutritional label and what contribution the cereals have in terms of meeting the recommended daily intake of each element. In addition, it is also important to determine if the concentrations vary depending on whether or not the cereals are name brand or generic (store) brand. Multiple cereal samples are analyzed through flame atomic absorption spectroscopy and their concentration is determined by using quality controls and the equation of the line of best fit from the calibration curve based on the calibration standards. All data will be analyzed and statistical analysis will be performed in order to sufficiently and accurately report the data.