Following the publication of Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/222 the responsibilities of the EURL for Monitoring Bacteriological and Viral Contamination of Bivalve Molluscs at Cefas have been transferred to the EU Reference Laboratories for the analysis and testing of zoonoses (salmonella) (https://www.eurlsalmonella.eu/), the EU reference laboratory for Escherichia coli, including verotoxigenic E. coli (vtec) (http://old.iss.it/vtec/), and the EU reference laboratory for foodborne viruses https://www.livsmedelsverket.se/en/production-control-and-trade/eurl-foodborne-viruses). The EU reference laboratory for the monitoring of marine biotoxins has taken over the activities related to the classification and monitoring of production areas for bivalve molluscs (http://www.aecosan.msssi.gob.es/en/CRLMB/web/home.html. Information on Cefas’ International Reference Laboratory activities can be found at https://www.cefas.co.uk/centres-of-excellence/

Quality Assurance

Appropriate quality assurance systems for laboratory activities are a vital component of good laboratory practice. Quality assurance systems include accreditation to EN ISO/IEC 17025 on “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories” and participation in external quality assurance schemes (EQA) and comparative testing through proficiency testing. Part of the EURL's remit is to assist reference laboratories achieve good quality assurance practices.

Comparative testing (proficiency testing)

The EURL, as part of its remit, organises regular proficiency testing (PT) for relevant methods amongst NRL's and other international laboratories. Information on recent and forthcoming proficiency testing, along with previous PT performance reports are posted on the activities page and in the information centre of this website. The EURL PT programme covers the current microbiological testing requirements of Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 (E. coli and Salmonella spp.), viral contaminants (norovirus and hepatitis A virus) and Vibrio spp.

Accreditation

The EURL is accredited as the UKAS ISO 17025 testing laboratory 2293 by the relevant UK authority (the United Kingdom Accreditation Service) for the microbiological testing requirements specified by Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 (E. coli and Salmonella spp.) and also for quantitative determination of norovirus (by real time reverse transcription PCR) and detection of V. parahaemolyticus in bivalve molluscan shellfish.

Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls performed to ensure verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules requires that official laboratories (including National Reference Laboratories) are assessed and accredited to EN ISO 17025. A derogation on the accreditation of laboratories is contained within the transitional measures Regulation (EC) No 2076/2005 of 5 December 2005 laying down transitional arrangements for the implementation of Regulations (EC) No 853/2004, (EC) No 854/2004 and (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council and amending Regulations (EC) No 853/2004 and (EC) No 854/2004 provided that a laboratory has initiated and is pursuing the necessary accreditation or can provide the competent authority with satisfactory guarantees that quality control schemes are in place. As part of its remit, the EURL will be assisting NRLs, where necessary, to meet these international accreditation and quality standards.

External Quality Assurance (EQA)

EQA is an essential part of good quality assurance programmes and, where available, is required for accreditation to EN ISO 17025 standards.  The EURL collaborates with Public Health England (PHE) in the organisation of a tailored shellfish EQA scheme covering E. coli and Salmonella spp. analyses. Reference laboratories are encouraged to participate in this scheme. The PHE is a UKAS ISO/IEC 17043 accredited proficiency testing provider No. 0006 for the production of test materials for the shellfish EQA scheme.

Performance assessment and follow-up

All laboratories undertaking Official Controls on live bivalve molluscs should participate in a relevant external EQA scheme. This enables both an independent assessment of laboratory performance and comparative performance assessments with other participants. The frequency of such participation should be frequent enough to enable identification of poor performance over a realistic timescale. Laboratory performance should be monitored on a regular basis and poor performance investigated. The EURL has produced a guide on performance assessment and recommended follow-up activities. This can be accessed by clicking here.

European co-operation for Accreditation (EA)

Until now, the branches of European National Accreditation bodies have been handled separately by EAC (European Accreditation of Certification) and EAL (European co-operation for Accreditation of Laboratories) concerned with certification bodies or with laboratories. These organisations have joined to form European Accreditation (EA), which now covers all European conformity assessment activities. For more information on EA and to access the document EA-4/10 'Accreditation for laboratories performing microbiological testing' click here.

The scheme co-ordinator is: Nita Patel Centre for Infections Food and Environmental Proficiency Testing Unit (FEPTU) 61 Colindale Avenue London NW9 5HT UK

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8327 7119
Fax: +44 (0) 20 8200 8264
Email: foodeqa@phe.gov.uk
Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england

  • Salmonella