Biological hazards such as bacteria, viruses or prions are present in food, in particular in products of animal origin. Salmonella in poultry, Listeria monocytogenes in milk products, ASP in live molluscs, BSE from cattle pose serious risks to public health. In order to co-ordinate detection and monitoring of certain biological hazards efficiently, the Commission created a network of "National Reference Laboratories" co-ordinated by "EU Reference Laboratories (EURL)", responsible for setting up EU-wide standards for testing, routine procedures and reliable testing methods.
The EU Reference Laboratories with scientific and technical expertise within the areas of animal health, public health and zootechnics have been designated and listed, without prejudice of other relevant European legislation, in Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules. Within the framework of Council Decision 90/424/EEC on expenditure in the veterinary field of 26 June 1990, these laboratories may receive EU financial aid for fulfilling duties and functions specified in Council legislation.
As regards the veterinary public health sector, the following EURLs have been designated in the area of biological risks:
EU Reference Laboratories in the area of public health :
- EU Reference Laboratory for Campylobacter
- EU Reference laboratory for Milk and Milk products
- EU Reference laboratory for the analysis and testing of Zoonoses (Salmonella)
- EU Reference laboratory for the monitoring of Marine Biotoxins
- EU Reference laboratory for monitoring the Viral and Bacteriological Contamination of Bivalve Molluscs
- EU Reference laboratory for Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (without prejudice of Regulation (EC) 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001, Annex X, Chapter B)
- EU Reference laboratory for Listeria monocytogenes
- EU Reference laboratory for Coagulase positive Staphylococci, including Staphylococccus aureus
- EU Reference laboratory for Escherichia coli, including Verotoxigenic E. Coli (VTEC)
- EU Reference laboratory for Parasites (in particular Trichinella, Echinococcus and Anisakis)
- EU Reference laboratory for Antimicrobial Resistance
- EU Reference laboratory for Animal Proteins in Feedingstuffs