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National Reference Laboratories (NRLs)

The role of National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) and details of the UK and Northern Ireland (NI) NRLs for food and feed testing

Last updated: 7 February 2022
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NRLs are specialist laboratories responsible for maintaining standards for the routine testing of feed, food and animal health. They provide advice and support on methods for official control testing, ensuring the delivery of risk-based and proportionate food enforcement to protect consumers. 

Food Standards Agency (FSA) has a legal obligation to designate NRLs for food and feed. FSA and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) designated food and feed NRLs for UK. FSA designated food and feed NRLs providing specific EU requirements for Northern Ireland.

Defra has a legal obligation to designate NRLs for animal health and live animals in Great Britain (GB). This role is undertaken by DAERA for Northern Ireland (NI).

In GB, NRLs are designated under the Official Control Regulation (EU) 2017/625 for Official Feed and Food Controls, as amended and retained in UK legislation under Statutory Instrument 2020/1481.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, EU law continues to apply post EU exit in respect of the majority of food and feed hygiene law, as listed in the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP). This includes the Official Control Regulation (EU) 2017/625 for Official Feed and Food Controls. In accordance with the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP), the FSA has designated laboratories based in EU Member States to provide required NRL functions under Regulation 2017/625 for Northern Ireland.  However, Northern Ireland may still refer to UK NRLs for other functions such as assistance with technical questions and support with proficiency testing beyond that provided by NI specific NRLs.

FSA and FSS designated food and feed NRLs for UK

Additives for use in animal nutrition

Laboratory of the Government Chemist Ltd 
Teddington
Middlesex
TW11 0LY
Tel: 020 8943 7000 

Antimicrobial resistance

Food, Water & Environment (FWE) Microbiology Network
UK Health & Security Agency (UKHSA)
61 Colindale Avenue
London
NW9 5EQ
Tel: 020 8327 7160/7325

Campylobacter

FW&E Microbiology Network
UKHSA
61 Colindale Avenue
London
NW9 5EQ
Tel: 020 8327 7160/7325

Coagulase positive Staphylococci, including Staphylococccus aureus

FW&E Microbiology Network
UKHSA
61 Colindale Avenue
London
NW9 5EQ
Tel: 020 8327 7160/7325

Escherichia coli, including Verotoxigenic E. Coli (VTEC)

FW&E Microbiology Network
UKHSA
61 Colindale Avenue
London
NW9 5EQ
Tel: 020 8327 7160/7325      

Foodborne viruses

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) 
The Nothe
Barrack Road
Weymouth
DT4 8UB
Tel: 01305 206600 

Genetically modified organisms

Laboratory of the Government Chemist Ltd
Queens Road
Teddington
Middlesex
TW11 0LY
Tel: 020 8943 7000     

Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) (Dioxins)
Sand Hutton
York
YO41 1LZ
Tel: 01904 462000

Listeria monocytogenes

FW&E Microbiology Network
UKHSA
61 Colindale Avenue
London
NW9 5EQ
Tel: 020 8327 7160/7325    

Material intended to come into contact with foodstuffs

FERA (Materials)
Sand Hutton
York
YO41 1LZ
Tel: 01904 462000    

Metals and nitrogenous compounds

FERA (Heavy metals) 
Sand Hutton
York
YO41 1LZ
Tel: 01904 462000        

Monitoring of marine biotoxins

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI)
Shellfish Toxin Unit - VSD Stormont 
Stoney Road 
Belfast 
BT4 3SD 
Tel: 028 9052 5636 

Monitoring the bacteriological contamination of bivalve molluscs

CEFAS
The Nothe
Barrack Road
Weymouth
DT4 8UB
Tel: 01305 206600 

Mycotoxins and plant toxins 

FERA (Mycotoxins) 
Sand Hutton
York
YO41 1LZ
Tel: 01904 462000        

Parasites (Anisakis) 

CEFAS (Anisakis) 
The Nothe
Barrack Road
Weymouth
DT4 8UB
Tel: 01305 206600     

Parasites (Trichinella and Echinococcus)

Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)
National Agri-Food Innovation Campus 
Sand Hutton 
York 
YO41 1LZ
Tel: 01904 462000    

Processing contaminants

FERA (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) 
Sand Hutton
York
YO41 1LZ
Tel: 01904 462000        

The analysis and testing of Zoonoses (Salmonella)

FW&E Microbiology Network
UKHSA
61 Colindale Avenue
London
NW9 5EQ
Tel: 020 8327 7160/7325    

 

 

FSA designated food and feed NRLs for Northern Ireland

Additives for use in animal nutrition

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Institute for Animal Nutrition and Feed 
Spargelfeldstrasse 191 
1220 Vienna 
Austria 
Tel: +43 50555 33216
Email: nrl-ni-fsa@ages.at

Antimicrobial resistance 

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Agriculture House
Kildare Street
Dublin
DO2 WK12
Tel: +353 (0) 1 607 2000
Email: info@agriculture.gov.ie 

Campylobacter

Foodborne pathogens, Sciensano
Rue Juliette Wytsmanstraat 14 
Brussels 
Belgium 
1050
Tel: +43 50555 35107
Email: NRL.NI@sciensano.be

Coagulase positive Staphylococci, including Staphylococcus aureus

Laboratorio Nazionale di Riferimento Stafilococchi coagulasi positivi, compreso S.aureus
S.C. Sicurezza e Qualità degli Alimenti

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte Liguria e Valle d'Aosta
Via Bologna 148
Torino
Italy 10154
Tel: 0039 0112686234 / 225 or 335
Email: nrlstafilococco@izsto.it

Escherichia coli, including Verotoxigenic E. Coli (VTEC)

Foodborne pathogens, Sciensano
Rue Juliette Wytsmanstraat 14 
Brussels 
Belgium 
1050
Tel: +43 50555 35107
Email: NRL.NI@sciensano.be

Foodborne viruses

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Institute for Food Safety Vienna 
Spargelfeldstrasse 191 
1220 Vienna 
Austria 
Tel: +43 50555 35107
Email: nrl-ni-fsa@ages.at

Food Contact Materials 

Health Service Executive
Public Analyst Laboratory
Sir Patrick Dun's
Lower Grand Canal Street
Dublin 2
DO2 P667
Tel: +353 (0) 16612022
Email: info.dpal@hse.ie

Genetically modified organisms

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Institute for Food Safety Vienna 
Spargelfeldstrasse 191 
1220 Vienna 
Austria 
Tel: +43 50555 35107
e-mail: nrl-ni-fsa@ages.at  

Halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment (BIOR)
Lejupes iela 3
Riga
Latvia
LV-1076
Tel: +37167620513
Email: bior@bior.lv

Listeria monocytogenes

Foodborne pathogens, Sciensano
Rue Juliette Wytsmanstraat 14 
Brussels 
Belgium 
1050
Tel: +43 50555 35107
Email: NRL.NI@sciensano.be

Metals and nitrogenous compounds

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Institute for Animal Nutrition and Feed 
Wieningerstraße 8 
4020 Linz
Austria
Tel: +43 50555 33216
e-mail: nrl-ni-fsa@ages.at

Monitoring of marine biotoxins

Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR)
Akkermaalsbos 2
Wageningen 
Netherlands
6708 WB
Tel: +31317 481603
e-mail: mirjam.klijnstra@wurl.nl

Mycotoxins and plant toxins

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Institute for Food Safety Linz 
Wieningerstraße 8 
4020 Linz
Austria
Tel: +43 50555 35107
e-mail: nrl-ni-fsa@ages.at

Parasites

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Agriculture House
Kildare Street
Dublin
DO2 WK12
Tel: +353 (0) 1 607 2000
Email: info@agriculture.gov.ie 

Processing contaminants

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Institute for Food Safety Linz
Wieningerstraße 8 
4020 Linz
Austria
Tel: +43 50555 35107
e-mail: nrl-ni-fsa@ages.at

The analysis and testing of Zoonoses (Salmonella) 

Foodborne pathogens, Sciensano
Rue Juliette Wytsmanstraat 14 
Brussels 
Belgium 
1050
Tel: +43 50555 35107
Email: NRL.NI@sciensano.be