The JRC operates seven European Union Reference Laboratories (EURLs). Four such laboratories are operated by JRC-IRMM:
Today, consumers increasingly expect healthy and safe food and demand information concerning the origin of their food products in order to make their appropriate and individual choices. The European Union has established a legislative framework to ensure safe and high quality food products for European consumers. This includes setting maximum limits for e.g. contaminants (manmade and natural) and residues as well as establishing procedures for authorisation of certain products that end up in the food chain. The implementation of this strict legislation is performed by the EU Member States for which the legislative framework has foreseen requirements such as accreditation of official food control laboratories and the provision of quality assurance tools through the establishment of National and European Reference Laboratories (NRLs and EURLs).
The JRC is playing a leading role in ensuring a harmonised approach of EU Member States, industry and stakeholders. It hosts seven European Union Reference Laboratories (EU-RLs), 6 of the 27 EURLs for food control purposes; four in the area of food safety control (heavy metals, mycotoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and food contact materials) and two dealing with control as well as the pre-marketing authorisation of certain products (feed additives and genetically modified organisms) as well as the European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM).
EURLs co-ordinate a network of 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.
More about EURLs can be found on the website of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers.