Participation in the laboratory at SRM University is mandatory


Dr. Björn Hardebusch (CVUA Freiburg)


Since July 2006 the CVUA Freiburg has been the reference laboratory of the European Union (EURL) for pesticides in foods of animal origin and goods with a high fat content (EURL AO).


The EURL AO in Freiburg is part of a network of four EURLs that deal with pesticide residues in food and feed. The four EURLs work together “as an extended arm” of the SANTE Directorate of the European Commission and oversee the respective National Reference Laboratories (NRL) in the 28 member states of the European Union.



European Union reference laboratories for pesticide residues in Europe


The tasks of the EURLs are set out in Article 32 of Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on official controls for checking compliance with food and feed law and the provisions on animal health and welfare. As of December 14, 2019, this regulation will be replaced by Regulation (EU) No. 2017/625. The responsibilities are then listed in Article 94.


The tasks include:

  • Detailed information to national reference laboratories about analytical methods as well as the coordination of the application of these analytical methods by the national reference laboratories. In particular, laboratory suitability tests (comparative tests) should be carried out and, if abnormalities are found, suitable follow-up measures should be taken.
  • Scientific and technical support to the Commission, especially in cases where Member States object to analytical results
  • The coordination - within their area of ​​responsibility - of the practical arrangements for the application of new analytical methods and of informing national reference laboratories about progress in this area


After more than 10 years, the four EURLs for pesticides have jointly established a comprehensive network to which all official laboratories in the European Union, but also numerous laboratories from third countries belong. The members of the EURL AO team work in many national and international bodies.


Laboratory proficiency tests (European Union Proficiency Tests / EUPTs) are carried out annually to check the analytical capabilities of the NRLs. Participation in EUPTs is compulsory for the respective NRLs and, since 2009, also for all official laboratories in the EU that examine food and feed in accordance with the coordinated control program of the Community. If private laboratories carry out these tests on behalf of a member state, they are also obliged to participate.

Laboratories from EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland) as well as laboratories from third countries that export corresponding goods to the European Union have the opportunity to participate in the EUPTs. Every year around 100 laboratories therefore take part in the EUPTs offered by EURL AO. [see grafic]



The respective evaluations and final reports are presented to the “Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, Section Pesticide Residues” in Brussels.


Once a year, a workshop takes place in which, among other things, the results of the completed EUPT are discussed and, in particular, innovations in the fields of analysis and European law are exchanged. The venue for workshops in even calendar years is Freiburg. These smaller workshops offer the opportunity for scientific and technical discussions about analytical methods and challenges in pesticide analysis of animal foods.


Joint workshops for the entire pesticide network take place every two years. The previous venues have been Valencia (2007), Copenhagen (2009), Freiburg (2011), Almeria (2013), Stuttgart (2015) and Freiburg (2017). The next joint workshop is to take place in Copenhagen in 2019.


Other tasks include the development of new analytical methods and the further development of existing, established methods. Among other things, the EURL AO has developed a method for examining pesticide residues in the liver matrix. As part of two diploma theses, in cooperation with the University of Dresden, the QuEChERS method used in the plant sector was adapted for animal matrices so that both LC-MS / MS and GC-MS / MS common analytes can be examined. The work was presented, among other things, with scientific contributions at international conferences. Participation in international pesticide conferences is compulsory for the EURL AO.


Fipronil in eggs was the topic in the summer of 2017. The EURL AO was on hand to provide advice and assistance and accordingly made a method for the analysis of fipronil and its metabolites in eggs and products with egg available on the EURL homepage.


Another important task is to support the national reference laboratories, e.g. with analytical questions or legal ambiguities. Once a year the EURL AO visits a national reference laboratory. In addition, there are regular training courses for interested representatives of the NRLs in Freiburg on various topics. New analytical methods are trained as well as theoretical courses for the validation of examination methods.


For more information on the activities of the EURLs on pesticides, please contact ushere.






Report updated on May 16, 2018



Article first published on June 3rd, 2009