European Union Reference Laboratories

Originally within the legislative framework on food safety, the European Union established a series of European Union Reference Laboratories (EURLs) for food and feed, as well as animal health, which now includes the area of animal welfare involving a number of other policy areas, such as cosmetics, industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The JRC hosts six European Union Reference Laboratories (EURLs) working on food and feed related issues; four in the area of food safety control (heavy metals, mycotoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and food contact materials) and two in the area of control as well as the pre-marketing authorisation of certain products (feed additives and genetically modified organisms). These EURLs coordinate a network of national reference laboratories (NRLs) to obtain high quality results by the provision of reference methods, reference materials, proficiency testing schemes and training to laboratory staff. They support the creation of a well performing network of laboratories throughout the European Union. The work of the EURLs leads to better implementation of EU legislation, e.g. by enforcing legislative limits and reducing the need to repeat testing. As a result the functioning of the EU internal market is strengthened and consumers benefit from safe food and products in the market.

A seventh European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL ECVAM) addresses alternatives to the use of animals for scientific purposes. It promotes the scientific and regulatory acceptance of non-animal approaches and coordinates EU-wide independent validation of their relevance and reliability for specific purposes, with the aim to progressively reduce the current reliance on animal models. EURL ECVAM coordinates a network of laboratories that assists in the evaluation (validation) of alternative approaches.

More about EURLs can be found on the website of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers.