Networking or not networking: that is not a question!
As this 2nd issue of 2017 is being published, the process of establishing EU Reference Laboratories (EURLs) in plant health as part of the implementation of the new EU Official Controls Regulation 2017/625 is well under way and the role of National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) will be strengthened. The changes for the network of official laboratories, NRLs and EURLs with the release of this new regulation were presented in the previous issue. These positive developments will nonetheless mean that EU plant pest diagnostic laboratories will face many challenges. In such context learning from others and networking will be essential. Reference laboratories in other sectors (e.g. animal health) are well established, and exchanges of experience will be essential even if the specificities of the sectors may differ in some respects. Euroreference helps build these bridges by bringing together contributions from animal health, plant health, and food and drinking water safety.
In this issue:
Investigations on Q Fever NRL’s interactions with diagnostic laboratories are reported.
An inter-laboratory comparison of molecular methods for the identification of Nosema species in honeybee samples is presented. Such comparisons, i.e. proficiency testing (PT) and test performance studies (TPS), have become an essential aspect of laboratory practice in all areas and their use is increasing internationally, PTs being often required in the accreditation process.
The need for harmonisation of Certificates of Analysis of active substances provided by manufacturers for veterinary drugs is discussed.
An overview on the revision of ISO/IEC 17025 standard is presented: This is the reference standard for accreditation for the methods implemented as part of official analyses under the EU 2017/625 Regulation.
Reliable and rapid diagnostic processes are essential to support inspection activities conducted by National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs), and to evaluate the efficacy of measures taken. How EPPO and Euphresco aim to ensure high quality, harmonised plant health diagnostics in the EPPO region is presented.
In the plant health field, hundreds of pests (bacteria, fungi and chromista, insects and mites, nematodes, phytoplasmas, viruses and viroids, invasive plants) are regulated in EPPO countries. Consequently laboratories may potentially need to perform tests on thousands of pest/host matrices under accreditation. In such case a flexible scope is a must and exchange of experience and harmonisation are needed. Laboratories need to have access to well-characterised biological reference material for morphological identifications and the use for development, validation of tests and as a base for positive and negative controls. Reports of networking activities organised by EPPO in the last months on these two important topics for reference laboratories are described.
We hope you will enjoy reading these articles and that this will stimulate further exchanges on these important topics. Let’s confirm networking as a 2018 New Year resolution and we encourage you to share your experience through Euroreference.
Françoise Petter and Madeleine McMullen