Reference Laboratories

Several National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) are attached to the BfR, thus making it a part of an EU-wide network for the improvement of food monitoring.

The NRLs were established by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) on the basis of Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 and (EU) 2017/625. They are active in the fields of food and feed safety, as well as food hygiene. They are located at the BfR.

The NRLs at the BfR are very highly qualified in their respective areas and are characterised by their political, social and economic independence. The establishment of the NRL in the member states of the EU has created the basis for harmonised measures throughout Europe in the field of laboratory diagnostics. It is an essential task of the NRLs to develop and validate methods and to carry out proficiency tests (comparative laboratory tests) with the official laboratories at national level for quality assurance.

Reliable food monitoring in all European countries

As a federal institute, the BfR collaborates closely with the institutions of each federal state (Bundesland), especially the state agencies for consumer and health protection (LUA). The NRLs therefore see themselves as a link between regional institutions and the European Union. The concerns of the federal states are consolidated by the NRLs and passed on to the European Reference Laboratories (EURL) which in turn maintain close contacts with the NRLs in the member states. This guarantees that work is performed in line with uniform standards throughout Europe, especially where the monitoring and control of food is concerned, for which the principle of the free movement of goods within the EU applies fundamentally.

The EURL are under the supervision of the European Commission (EC). The EURL are the institutions between the EU Commission and the NRLs in the member states.

Revision of the previous Regulation (EC) 882/2004

The new Regulation (EU) 2017/625 replaces Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004. The goal of the revision is to streamline and simplify the existing legal framework that has existed to date so that risk-oriented control can be continued and improved. Administrative assistance between the member states to improve the prosecution of cross-border violations is also to be increased and an improved exchange of knowledge guaranteed. In future, the areas of plant health, plant protection and by-products of animal origin will lie within the scope of the regulation.

The NRLs active at the BfR:

  • NRL for the Analysis and Testing of Zoonoses (Salmonella)
  • NRL for the Monitoring of Marine Biotoxins
  • NRL for Monitoring the Viral and Bacteriological Contamination of Bivalve Molluscs
  • NRL for Listeria monocytogenes
  • NRL for Coagulase-positive Staphylococci including Staphylococcus aureus
  • NRL for Escherichia coli including Verotoxin-producing E. coli
  • NRL for Campylobacter
  • NRL for Trichinella
  • NRL for Antibiotic Resistance
  • NRL for Animal Proteins in Feed
  • NRL for Additives for Use in Animal Nutrition
  • NRL for Food Contact Materials
  • NRL for Mycotoxins
  • NRL for Dioxins and PCBs in Food and Feed

In addition to the NRLs based on EU law, other laboratories with a reference function are also attached to the BfR. These include the reference laboratory in the network of genetically modified organisms (GMO), the top appraisal body for the import control of wine in line with the wine monitoring regulation, zoonosis reporting and the consultant laboratories for Leptospira and Yersinia.


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