Reference functions

The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) is a leading state laboratory, which has been nominated for the official testing in a particular area in accordance with legislative requirements.
Nomination of the National Reference Laboratory promotes high quality and consistency of analytical results in state surveillance and control laboratory programs.  To achieve this aim, the National Reference Laboratory provides application of validated analytical methods, accessibility to reference materials, coordinating of interlaboratory comparative testing and training of laboratory staff. 
In accordance with requirements of the Regulation 882/2004 on official control, specific areas have been defined where have been nominated European Union Reference Laboratories.
Member States of the European Union are required to designate national reference laboratory in each of defined areas (32nd and 33 Article of the Regulation).

Contact persons of National reference laboratories for feed and food (Latvia) (601.25 Kb)

Contact persons of National reference laboratories for animal health and live animals (Latvia) (544.29 Kb)

Basic documents which regulate functions of the National Reference Laboratory:
Laws 

  • Law on the Supervision of the Handling of Food;
  • Veterinary Medicine Law;
  • Law on Circulation of Genetically Modified Organisms.
     

The Cabinet regulations

  • Cabinet Regulations Nr.864 (2009) "Regulations for Reference Laboratory status granting and accreditation procedure, functions and duties as well as facilities and equipment requirements in fields of food, feed and veterinary”

Regulation (EC) of the European Parliament and of the Council

  • Regulation No. 882/2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules

Laboratories of the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment “BIOR” partially fulfill functions of the state leading laboratory since its foundation, but an official nomination and targeted funding for the implementation of reference functions the Institute's laboratories received for the first time only after the adjustment of the national legislation in 2008.

In accordance with their authority, the Institute has been nominated as the National Reference Laboratory in the following areas: 

  • Diagnostics of infectious disease (34 diseases);
  • Food, materials and objects contacting with food, animal feed, residues, including residues of pesticides, pathogens and antimicrobial resistance (20 areas);
  • Control and surveillance of the diagnosis standards and methods (3 diseases).

The Institute has the following main functions in each of the nominated areas:

  • cooperation with the European Union Reference Laboratory;
  • coordination of the activities of the laboratories carrying out official controls;
  • organizing of comparative tests between official state laboratories and ensuring an appropriate follow-up after the tests;
  •  distribution of the Community Reference Laboratory information to the competent authority and official state laboratories;
  •  providing of scientific and technical assistance to the competent authority for the implementation of its coordinated control plans.

Considering the fact that laboratory diagnosis is an area where is a rapid development of technologies, the National Reference Laboratory has to provide an immediate implementation of all the latest requirements and their introduction in the official control.  In addition laboratory should be able to develop, optimize and validate methods of laboratory investigations, to establish and maintain the bank of agent strain and samples, the bank of agent antigen, the stock of a diagnostic reagent kit, the bank of specific immunoglobulins and serums, as well as provide laboratory investigations in the reference area and approve or reject results from the official or accredited laboratories in cases of disputes.

The National Reference Laboratory is the only state laboratory, which maintains uninterrupted technological and personnel preparedness to emergency situations and infectious disease outbreaks 24-hour hours a day.
Since the official controls are carried out taking into account the results of the tests, which are provided by animal feed and food chain companies in accordance with HACCP programs, it is essential to obtain a certainty of the companies’ laboratory competence, that can be achieved by involving these laboratories in the National Reference Laboratory training programs and participating in the interlaboratory comparative testing organized by these laboratories.

Regardless of the funding reduction for the implementation of reference functions and official control, in accordance with the legislation, EU Member States have to provide the reference functions in all the designated areas, otherwise the competence of the laboratories participating in the official control will be called into question in the level of European Commission, consequently also the reliability of official controls in the State. Full implementation of the  reference functions will give an opportunity to increase significantly the ability and competence to support  point of view of Latvia as EU Member State regarding to improvement of surveillance and control mechanisms of agents of the various infectious disease and contaminants in food, thereby strengthening the export capability of the sector's companies.

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