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Accreditation and quality assurance

The implementation of a (quality) management system is an approved means to render work processes transparent and reproducible, to ensure their continuous improvement, to avoid errors and, by way of accreditation according to an internationally recognised system, to produce internationally accepted results.

In view of the importance of official residue control in the food sector, the laboratories active in this field were, for example, already committed by Council Directive 93/99/EC of 26 April 1993, Article 3, to establishing a quality assurance system. Commission Decision 98/179/EC of 23 February 1998 laying down detailed rules on official sampling for the monitoring of certain substances and residues thereof in live animals and animal products, specified this demand by ruling that laboratories active in official residue control must obtain an accreditation according to an internationally recognised quality control assessment scheme before 1 January 2002. Control Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 renewed the obligation to obtain accreditation for all laboratories active in official food control.

Consequently, already in the mid-90s the establishment of a quality management system was begun at the – as it was called then - EU and National Reference Laboratory for Residues of Pharmacologically Active Substances (CRL/NRL) at the Federal Institute for Health Protection of Consumers and Veterinary Medicine (BgVV). In view of its prominent position within the network of European residue control laboratories, the Reference Laboratory first established a quality management system on the basis of European Standard EN 45000 – complemented by OECD-GLP Elements II, No. 2 and 7. After its inspection by representatives of the public accreditation body AKS Hannover, this system was accredited for the first time in 1999.

Starting from this first accreditation, the QA system was advanced continuously and adapted to the increasing requirements which resulted from the further development of the relevant standards (EN ISO/IEC 17025 of 2000 and 2005). Following the dissolution of the BgVV and the transfer of the CRL/NRL to the newly created BVL, the laboratory section was enlarged and given additional tasks. The inclusion of the new tasks in the QA system was accompanied by an enlargement of the technical competences of the laboratory, i.e. additional analyses and types of tests were incorporated into the accreditation.

The continuous further development of the QA system up to today is reflected in its successful re-accreditation in 2009. Now that all laboratory sections have been included in the QA system, a basis has been created for achieving test results of the highest possible quality, their comparability and international recognition.

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