The Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 nominates the Joint Research Centre as the European Union Reference Laboratory (EU-RL) for mycotoxins. It is established at the JRC Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) and works together with appointed national reference laboratories (NRLs) of the EU Member States. As result of the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, the term Community Reference Laboratory has changed into European Union Reference Laboratory (EU-RL). The EU-RL for mycotoxins aims to facilitate the implementation of European legislation related to monitoring of mycotoxins in food of plant origin and animal feed.
Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by fungi growing in food and animal feed. As about 20 % of food products, mainly of plant origin, can be contaminated with mycotoxins, European legislation sets maximum limits to protect the consumers. To ensure that results from the laboratories monitoring food and feed fulfil the requirements of legislation, any method that is used for analysis of goods must meet established and accepted performance criteria. Therefore, the EU-RL for mycotoxins co-ordinates activities related to the development and improvement of methods of analysis for the official control of the maximum levels.
The main tasks of the EU-RL for mycotoxins are: method development and validation organising comparative testing training The activities of the EU-RL concern aflatoxin B1, total aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins B1 & B2 and T-2 & HT-2 toxin, and ergot alkaloids. The IRMM and the EU-RL for mycotoxins develop analytical approaches and validate them in-house. In case a method is suitable and robust enough, the EU-RL organises an international collaborative study to validate the method and to assess the method performance. The collaborative studies are carried out according to an internationally harmonised validation protocol. Interlaboratory comparisons organised by the EU-RL for the NRLs enable them to assess their performance and allow improving the overall correctness of analytical results for mycotoxins.