Abstract This paper describes a simple method for the determination of sixteen elements in food samples by using inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP-MS). Prior to analysis, 100–250 mg of powdered food samples were accurately weighed into a Teflon digestion vessel. Then, 4 ml of 20% v/v concentrated nitric acid and 2 ml of hydrogen peroxide were added. Decomposition of samples was carried out in a microwave digestion system. In order to verify the accuracy and precision of the proposed method, five Standard Reference Materials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (Whole Egg Powder RM 8415, Rice Flour SRM 1568a, Typical Diet SRM 1548a, Wheat Flour SRM 1567a and Bovine Muscle Powder RM 8414) were analyzed. Additional validation data are provided based on the analysis of 18 different types of food samples by the proposed method and using comparative methods with AAS as the detector.