National Reference Laboratories for feed:

National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) have been established for the monitoring of food, feed, pathogens in humans and animals, genetically modified organisms and certain classes of substances such as residues in live animals and animal products as well as pesticide residues in food and feed.

By setting up National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) in the EU Member States, it has been possible to establish the basis for Europe-wide, harmonised analysis standards in the areas of official control of food and feed, and in the diagnosis of diseases in the field of animal health.
The Legal basis of the NRLs is the EU Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004, according to which each Member State is obliged to appoint one or several NRLs for specific analyses and to inform the European Commission thereof. The respective NRL must be accredited as a testing laboratory for the analysis concerned.

National reference laboratory for heavy metals in food and feed

National reference laboratory for heavy metals in food and feed

Heavy metals may be present in all feed and food. The amount is dependent on the natural composition and on the manufacturing as well as environmental conditions of the respective feed and food production. Some heavy metals have properties essential for nutrition, while others, such as lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic have no nutritional relevance and are classified as being toxic or very toxic.
Due to the toxicity of some heavy metals, Directive 2002/32/EC (feed) and Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006 set maximum levels for certain contaminants. This applies to the following elements and element species:

  • arsenic (total arsenic) and inorganic arsenic
  • lead
  • cadmium
  • mercury
  • tin


As a National Reference Laboratory for heavy metals in food (non-animal origin) and feed, we fulfil the following tasks in accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004:

  • collaboration with the EU reference laboratory in Geel (Belgium)
  • mandatory participation in the comparative testing rounds of the EU Reference Laboratory (EU-RL)
  • support of the national competent authorities
  • coordination of the activities of the competent official laboratories
  • implementation and organisation of round robin tests and comparative tests
  • implementation and organisation of workshops for the responsible official laboratories

National Reference Laboratory for additives for use in animal nutrition - authorisation

National Reference Laboratory for additives for use in animal nutrition - authorisation

What are animal feed additives and what are they used for?

Feed additives are substances, microorganisms or preparations other than feed material, which are intentionally added to feed or water. They fall into the following categories according to function:

  • Technological additives: preservatives, stabilisers, antioxidants, binders, ...
  • Sensory additives: flavouring compounds, colourants
  • Nutritional additives: vitamins, pro-vitamins, amino acids and their salts, trace elements, urea and its derivatives
  • Zootechnical additives: gut flora stabilisers, digestibility enhancers and substances which favourably affect the environment
  • Coccidiostats and histomonostats

A feed additive may only be authorised if it fulfils the following criteria (Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003, Article 5). The feed additive shall not

  • have an adverse effect on animal health, human health or the environment;
  • be presented in a manner which may mislead the user;
  • harm the consumer by impairing the distinctive features of animal products or mislead the consumer with regard to the distinctive features of animal products.

In addition, the additive must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • favourably affect the characteristics of feed;
  • favourably affect the characteristics of animal products;
  • favourably affect the colour of ornamental fish and birds;
  • satisfy the nutritional needs of animals;
  • favourably affect the environmental consequences of animal production;
  • favourably affect animal production, performance or welfare, particularly by affecting the gastro-intestinal flora or digestibility of feeding stuffs, or
  • have a coccidiostatic or histomonostatic effect.

Authorisation process for a feed additive:

Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 (on additives for use in animal nutrition), a feed additive must be authorised in a Community procedure before it may be placed on the market and fed to animals. A feed additive is only authorised if it demonstrably has no adverse effect on animal health, human health or the environment and if it fulfils a certain purpose or function.

The applicant submits an application to the European Commission and the application is then forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The EFSA  issues an opinion within six months, on the basis of which the Animal Nutrition section of the Standing Committee (SCoPAFF) will authorise or reject the application.

Tasks and activities of the NRL concerning feed additives - applications for authorisation:

The Commission Regulation (EC) No 378/2005 regulates the duties and tasks of the Community Reference Laboratory concerning applications for authorisation of feed additives.

In the application for authorisation, the applicant must include, among other things, the description of a suitable method of analysis of the active substance in the feed additives, premixtures and original product, which will be subjected to a scientific evaluation by a reporting laboratory. The National Reference Laboratories are required to participate in preparing the evaluation report on the method, to assess the suitability of the method for use in official testing and to submit their opinion to the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) in Geel. Other tasks include reporting to and cooperation with the EURL and the NRLs of other EU-member states, as well as testing, developing and validating methods of analysis.

In Austria, the Institute for Animal Nutrition and Feedstuffs at the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) in Vienna has been designated to fulfil these tasks.

National Reference Laboratory for animal proteins in feed

National Reference Laboratory for animal proteins in feed

Due to the outbreak of the BSE crisis in 2000, the feeding of animal meal to all farmed animals, with the exception of fishmeal to non-ruminants, was prohibited (Regulation (EC) No. 999/2001 and Regulation (EC) No. 1069/2009 ). In the course of feed control, adherence to this regulation is monitored by using light microscopy to analyse feed samples for the presence of fish and/or terrestrial animal particles.

In June 2013, a partial relaxation of the ban on feeding of processed animal proteins (PAPs) entered into force (Regulation (EC) No. 56/2013). Since then, PAPs from non-ruminants may be fed to fish. In order to determine whether feed samples are contaminated with ruminant PAPs, they are tested for the presence of ruminant DNA through comprehensive molecular-biological analysis.

The aim of the NRL is to establish a project environment ‘Animal Proteins’ within a communication network. By supporting the development of new analytical methods we will be able to make progress with the expected legislative changes concerning the further readmission of animal meals.

x