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The general functions and duties of the Community Reference Laboratory for feed and food are described in Article 32 (1) of Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004.

They shall be responsible for the following main activities:

- Co-operation with international organisations and NRLs
The CRL-VTEC will cooperate with EC, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organisation (WHO), and agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control working in the field of human and animal health. In particular, the CRL-VTEC will cooperate with Enter-net, the Community network for epidemiological surveillance and control of salmonella and VTEC infections, in defining common database for food isolates and joint proficiency tests on strain typing. The CRL-VTEC will strongly cooperate and support the NRLs. The five-year work programme of the CRL-VTEC will provide support to the NRLs, the Commission and developing countries in the diagnosis, epidemiology, control and training in the field of VTEC infections.

- Development of diagnostic methods
Development of analytical methods for the detection, identification and typing of VTEC and other pathogenic E.coli in animals, food, and in other relevant matrices.
Development and validation of serological methods to detect serogroup-specific antibodies in human beings with VTEC infections.
Sub-typing of VTEC strains by using molecular methods will be a major activity.

- Production and collection of reference materials and methods
Development and maintenance of a collection of relevant reference strains.
Preparation of antigens to be used in serological assays.
Development of standard operating procedures for detection of pathogenic Escherichia coli in animals, food and in other relevant matrices and for typing of the isolated strains.

- Organisation of proficiency tests and ring trials
Proficiency tests and ring trials on detection and typing methods will be organised and conducted for the designated NRLs for E. coli, the EU Candidate Countries and certain third countries. A full evaluation report of each test will be prepared for the Commission and the NRLs. The results of the proficiency tests will be discussed during a workshop to be organised annually.

- Collaboration with laboratories responsible for E. coli infections in third countries
On request from institutions of developing countries, training courses or visits will be organised at the CRL-VTEC on detection and typing methods. When available, reference materials will be provided to institutions of developing countries. Monitoring programmes and epidemiological surveys could be organised in collaboration with local institutions. Typing and sub-typing of strains collected in endemic countries could also be performed.

- Technical and scientific support to the Commission
The personnel of the CRL-VTEC will support Member States for the diagnoses of E. coli infections; on a specific request of member states, the personnel of CRL-VTEC will support local authorities in field studies carried out to face epidemic outbreaks. The CRL-VTEC will mainly focus its activity on VTEC. However, CRL-VTEC will deal with any pathogenic E.coli infection that will have either a foodborne or a zoonotic origin.


Published 24-11-2006 in About EU-RL-VTEC , last update 21-05-2012


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