The EURL-AP is responsible for the correct implementation of the official methods as stated by European regulation EC/152/2009 (consolidated) by light microscopy and PCR. Testing the capabilities of each NRL is thus a priority. This is achieved through the organization of yearly proficiency tests. Participation to those proficiency tests is mandatory for each NRL of the network.
This proficiency testing activity is under ISO 17043 accreditation.
A typical proficiency test for the detection of animal proteins in feed includes the following steps:
- Definition and preparation of blind sample sets. Blindness of the sample is critical. Samples will be adulterated or not with fish or terrestrial processed meals at different levels of concentration. The ability of the participants to identify the blanks from adulterated samples is a part of the parameters that need to be evaluated.
- Homogeneity study of the prepared samples
- Announcement of the test
- Diffusion of the instructions including well defined deadlines
- Sending of the samples
- Analysis of the samples by the participants and reporting on due date of the results to the organizer – the EURL-AP.
- Data treatment of the results by EURL-AP scientists and writing of the report.
- Distribution of a “draft” version of the report to the participants.
- Based on received comments, the preparation of the final reports, which turns public.
- Presentation and discussion of the report during EURL-AP Annual Workshop
Based on proficiency test results, the EURL-AP always requests investigations in case of NRL’s underperformance in order to find a scientific explanation for the observed deficiency. NRLs may always rely on help from the EURL-AP team in order to find solutions. Based on explanations, NRLs may propose a corrective action plan and/or be subjected to EURL-AP on site audits. In case of lack of cooperation or repeated underperformances, the concerned NRLs are notified to the DG SANTE.
In addition the EURL-AP is also asking the NRLs to participate to interlaboratory studies (or collaborative studies according to Commission decision EC/657/2002 ). Interlaboratory studies may not be strictly related to skills assessment but rather to research purposes (such as for determining the performance of a new method or its validation). Participation to such studies may either be mandatory or on a voluntary basis according to the need of the study. Reports from EURL-AP interlaboratory studies are also public.