JRC drops rights to host three EURLs from next year

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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is to stop its work as the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) in three areas from January 2018.

It currently hosts the EURL for heavy metals in feed and food, for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and for mycotoxins in feed and food and has done so since 2006.

The JRC will continue to host the EURLs for food contact materials, feed additives and genetically modified organisms.

It told us the decision was in line with President Juncker’s guidelines that the Commission should not carry out tasks which can be done by member states.

When asked about a EURL for food authenticity, JRC said provisions in the new Official Controls Regulation will aid the Commission to create European Reference Centres for Food Authenticity and Integrity with legislation expected to take effect in 2018.

The JRC added it was setting up a European Commission Knowledge Centre for Food Authenticity, which will support EC services and competent authorities in the Member States with knowledge and information tools to detect and prevent fraud in the food chain.

Expansion of scope

The Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission launched a call for selection of the EURLs and has also broaded their scope.

 

The EURL for heavy metals in feed and food is extended to all metals (including heavy metals and compounds such as nickel and aluminium) and nitrogenous compounds (nitrates, nitrites, melamine) in feed and food.

“The EURL is needed to…co-ordinate activites on the development, improvement and applicaton of sample preperation and methods of analysis for the control of the presence of metals and nitrogenous compounds in feed and food.”

Commission Regulation (1881/2006) sets maximum levels for several metals and nitrogenous compounds in different foods, for certain processing contaminants and several mycotoxins and plant toxins in foods.

For PAHs it will now include all processing contaminants (PAHs, compounds such as acrylamide, furan, MCPD and their esters, glycidyl esters).

For mycotocins in feed and food it will cover mycotoxins and plant toxins (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, gossypol, tropane alkaloids, tetrahydeocannabinol, opium alkaloids, hydrocyanic acid) in feed and food.

The EURLs should become operational by January 2018.

"During the last 10 years, the three EURLs (heavy metals, PAHs and mycotoxins) organised more than 30 workshops and more than 80 proficiency tests (PTs), prepared around 250 reference materials for PTs and calibration (some of them certified reference materials) and validated 16 analytical methods (some of them became CEN standards)," said the JRC.

"Moreover, a number of training events were organised for Member States but also third countries. The outcome of the work significantly contributed to the harmonisation of measurement capacity across the EU and improved the uncertainty of measurements performed in NRLs and other official food control laboratories."

Application deadline

National Competent Authorities (NCA) must submit applications for EURLs in their country no later than 17 March.

They must check the eligibility, exclusion and selection criteria are fulfilled by the candidate laboratories.

EURLs support the Commission in relation to risk management and risk assessment in laboratory analyses and coordinate the National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) in the member states.

They play a role as scientific and technical support and input into areas such as standardisation of analytical methods.

Applicant labs may be subject to visits by the selection panel at any time after applications have been received to support the selection process.

The EU provides financial assistance to EURLs in the form of a grant.

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