International methods ensure food safety – methodology developers meet at Evira


<div>The maintenance of the microbiological safety of food is in Europe to a significant extent based on the deployment of method standards published by the International Standards Organisation ISO and the European Committee for Standardization CEN. EU regulations stipulate ISO or CEN methods as the primary methods in official investigations. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira hosts on 5-7 May 2008 a meeting of the SC 9 Microbiology Subcommittee of the ISO/TC 34 Technical Committee on Food Products. The week then continues on 8-9 May with a meeting of CEN's Working Group CEN/TC 275/WG 6 on Microbiological Contamination. Some 60 experts in microbiology both from Europe and outside Europe will participate in the meetings. The ISO Sub-committee in question has previously met in Finland in 1984.</div>

Most of the standards are prepared in collaboration between the two organisations. The ISO Microbiology Group has so far produced 54 standards and other publications related to laboratory methods for food microbiological analyses. CEN has ratified 30 of them and all the common standards have been enforced as identical national standards within the EU and ETA. Comparative analyses are carried out in different laboratories to verify method performance and to ensure that comparable results are obtained from the laboratories.

The Microbiology Subcommittee is from the Finnish point of view the most important group in terms of international food-related standardisation, and Finland has been involved in the work of the Subcommittee for more than 20 years. At present Finland is an active P member (participating member). The Food Laboratory Committee at Evira and SFS are collaboratively responsible for national follow-up of standardisation in this field.

The responsibility for organising the meeting rests with the Finnish Standards Association SFS in its capacity as a member organisation of ISO and CEN. SFS is assisted in this task by Evira and the Customs Laboratory, which in practice represent Finland in ISO and CEN as expert organisations in the preparation of standards related to microbiology. The meeting of the ISO Subcommittee is chaired by Bertrand Lombard and the meeting of the CEN Working Group by Alexandre Leclercq.

For more information, please contact:
Tuula Pirhonen, microbiologist, Quality Manager, Evira, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24478, (+358 (0) 40 83 82 674)

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