National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Food and Feed
The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in food and feed is part of a European network. It consists of the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) and the NRLs in the EU Member States. The German NRL coordinates the official laboratories in the federal states with the aim of harmonising and improving the methods for laboratory analyses.
Cooperation in these networks ensures that official monitoring of food and feed is carried out according to uniform standards throughout Europe. The NRL for halogenated POPs therefore contributes to safety along the food chain, starting from feed, via farm animals to humans.
The NRL for halogenated POPs is located at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Department for Safety in the Food Chain, unit Residues.
Substance groups under the responsibility of the NRL for halogenated POPs
Halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are various organic substance groups which contain chlorine, fluorine or bromine (halogens) and are stable in the environment (persistent). The halogenated POPs can enter farm animals via animal feed and accumulate there due to their persistence. By consumption of food of animal origin, halogenated POPs can in turn be absorbed by humans.
For some halogenated POPs, maximum levels have been set for contents in certain food and feed.
Figure 1: Substance groups from the field of activity of the NRL for halogenated POPs
Main activities of the NRL for halogenated POPs according to Regulation (EU) 2017/625
- Cooperation with the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) for halogenated POPs
- Coordination of the activities of the laboratories of the official food and feed control in Germany with the aim of harmonising and improving the methods for laboratory analyses, tests or diagnoses and their use
- organising and carrying out comparative tests for the laboratories of the official food and feed control in Germany
- Development and optimisation of sensitive analytical methods for existing and new substance groups
- Exchange and dissemination of information from the EURL to the laboratories of official controls and the competent German authorities
- Support of the competent authorities in Germany in the implementation of control programmes
Research at the NRL on halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in food and feed
The NRL for halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in food and feed also conducts its own research. The main objective is to detect chlorinated, fluorinated and brominated persistent organic pollutants that can accumulate in food and feed, and to determine and trace their quantity. For this purpose, not only new and sensitive methods need to be developed for a wide range of matrices, but studies are also being conducted on the behaviour of these substances within the food chain.
The focus of the research is the analytical work. This includes the extraction of halogenated POPs from food and feed, followed by quantification. The use of automated purification systems as well as modern high-resolution and tandem mass spectrometers as detectors for gas and liquid chromatography enable a very sensitive detection of the different substance groups down to the ultra-trace range.
The research key aspects of the NRL POP is on:
- Development, optimisation, harmonisation and validation of new methods with the aim of
- the improvement of detection and quantification limits,
- the investigation of matrix effects,
- the determination of halogenated POPs in different matrices
- analytical support of transfer studies to elucidate accumulation, distribution and degradation processes of halogenated POPs within the food chain