EU 2017/625 recognizes expense of ISO accreditation. But still requires it.


Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products, amending Regulations (EC) No 999/2001, (EC) No 396/2005, (EC) No 1069/2009, (EC) No 1107/2009, (EU) No 1151/2012, (EU) No 652/2014, (EU) 2016/429 and (EU) 2016/2031 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulations (EC) No 1/2005 and (EC) No 1099/2009 and Council Directives 98/58/EC, 1999/74/EC, 2007/43/EC, 2008/119/EC and 2008/120/EC, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 854/2004 and (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 89/608/EEC, 89/662/EEC, 90/425/EEC, 91/496/EEC, 96/23/EC, 96/93/EC and 97/78/EC and Council Decision 92/438/EEC (Official Controls Regulation)Text with EEA relevance.

recognizes that accrediting labs to ISO 17025 is costly,

(50)

Laboratories designated by the competent authorities to carry out analyses, tests and diagnoses on samples taken in the context of official controls and other official activities should possess the expertise, equipment, infrastructure and staff to carry out such tasks to the highest standards. To ensure sound and reliable results, those laboratories should be accredited for the use of these methods according to standard EN ISO/IEC 17025 on ‘General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories’. The accreditation should be delivered by a national accreditation body operating in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council (16).

(51)

While accreditation is the instrument of choice to ensure high performance by official laboratories, it is also a complex and costly process, which would result in a disproportionate burden for the laboratory in cases where the method of laboratory analysis, test or diagnosis is particularly simple to perform and does not require specialised procedures or equipment, as is the case for the detection of Trichinella in the context of the inspection and, under certain conditions, in cases where the laboratory only carries out analyses, tests or diagnoses in the context of other official activities and not of official controls.

(52)

In order to ensure the flexibility and proportionality of the approach, in particular for animal health or plant health laboratories, provision should be made for the adoption of derogations aimed at allowing certain laboratories not to be accredited for all the methods they use. That happens in particular where validated methods for detecting particular pests of plants are not available. Moreover, accreditation of a laboratory for all the methods that it should use as an official laboratory might not be immediately available in cases where new or recently modified methods are to be used, in cases of emerging risks or in emergency situations. Under certain conditions, official laboratories should therefore be allowed to carry out analyses, tests and diagnoses for the competent authorities before they obtain the relevant accreditation.

(emphasis added)

It’s good to see the flow of revenue to waste and the inspection industry is now recognized.  Maybe in future years it will be understood that inspection does not guarantee quality and that no study has been done to check.  Oops!

Or maybe not, because revealing that EU officials don’t know the effectiveness of accreditation, or whether results from “official” labs are always perfect, would undermine several bureaucratic regimes.

Paragraph 52 also recognizes the slowness of the ISO and accreditation bodies to respond to new scientific developments.  It allows labs to investigate new hazards without accreditation for a year or so.  So will accreditation later make a difference to the quality of results?

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