The European Commission's science and knowledge branch will still host the EU reference laboratory (EURL) for food contact materials, feed additives and genetically modified organisms.
The Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission saw the change of host as an opportunity to broaden their scope.
The European Commission also told FoodQualityNews that it has ‘no plans’ to launch a call for the creation of an EU reference centre for food authenticity, contrary to noises made last year.
DTU to become EURL in two areas
The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark (DTU Food) will be the EURL for metals and nitrogenous compounds in feed and food as well as EURL for processing contaminants.
DTU Food told us it sees the appointments as recognition of its expertise within scientific advice.
“The scope of these new EURLs fits well with our scope to the Danish authorities as well as to our research in food processing, chemical contaminants and analytical methodology.”
EURLs aim to ensure high-quality and uniform testing in the EU, including providing the National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) with analytical methods and proficiency tests.
“Of course there is always a request for improved analytical methods including how to deal with difficult samples, lowering Limit of Detection and provide more data with less effort.”
DTU Food said it was planning to be operational as EURL for the two areas from March.
“This will be followed by an official request to us from the Commission to prepare a work programme for the new EURLs. However, a dialogue with the Commission about topics for the work program is in progress but not finalized yet.”
It already hosts the EURL for pesticides in cereals and feeding stuff as well as for antimicrobial resistance.
March start date
For halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in feed and food the EURL is Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Freiburg.
The EURL for mycotoxins and plant toxins in feed and food will be RIKILT (Stichting Wageningen Research). RIKILT Wageningen University & Research will start work from March.
The institute was nominated by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) and Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
A EURL has to make sure the research and statutory mandatory checks on mycotoxins and plant toxins in food and feed are properly set up and carried out by the NRLs in each Member State.
The role involves providing NRLs with analytical methods and diagnostic techniques, training staff, proficiency tests and collaborating with laboratories in non-EU countries.
RIKILT: New areas for research
RIKILT told us the appointment is acknowledgment of the commitment and long-time dedication of the NVWA to food safety on a national and European level.
“Several of these compounds, naturally occurring in food and feed raw materials, can have severe negative impacts on human health. It is important to monitor the levels in food to keep the incidence and concentrations low.
“For mycotoxins, JRC…has developed and improved analytical methods for the regulated mycotoxins together with the NRL community. To further improve food safety in the EU, the Commission and EFSA have identified new areas for mycotoxin research, such as modified mycotoxins, and mycotoxins for potential regulation, such as Alternaria toxins.”
RIKILT said plant toxins have more recently become a focus of the Commission and EFSA and EU regulation for various plant toxins is under review.
“Since the tasks for plant toxins are new to the EURL, the Commission has asked the national food safety authorities in the member states to appoint an NRL for plant toxins in food and feed. Focus for the coming year will be to establish the analytical method for pyrrolizidine alkaloids together with the new NRLs.”
Another focus will be organising proficiency tests on modified mycotoxins and pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
The EURL-NRL community on plant toxins will also be established this year and the work programme available in March.
RIKILT is also EURL for residues of growth promoter, sedatives and mycotoxins in food of animal origin.
EURLs receive partial annual funding from the European Commission.