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News from the European

News from the European Reference Laboratory for Milk and Milk Products (EU-RL MMP), Paris, 2011 Véronique Ninane* & Koen De Reu** *CRA-W, Département Valorisation des Productions, 24 Chaussée de Namur, B-5030 Gembloux **ILVO-T&V, Instituut voor Landbouw en Visserijonderzoek – Eenheid Technologie en Voeding, Brusselsesteenweg 370, B-9090 Melle Introduction Each year, the EU-RL MMP holds a workshop for the national reference laboratories (NRL). The latest session, that took place on 2 and 3 May 2011, was dedicated to the entire field of analyses that is covered by the EU-RL MMP. The state of progress, the needs with respect to analysis and legislation concerning total flora, somatic cells and alkaline phosphatase were discussed by means of presentations and debates. Performance of the European Reference Laboratories (EU-RLs) In his introduction to the workshop, Klaus Kostenzer, representing DG SANCO of the European Commission, gave a detailed overview of the recent evaluation of the activities conducted by the different EU-RLs. The quality of the performances of the EU-RL MMP was judged good to very good. Conducting inter-laboratory tests The heart of the matter was approached through an item that includes all analysis parameters, i.e. the carrying out of comparative inter-laboratory tests. Soraya Amarouche of the French Laboratoire national de métrologie et d’essai (LNE) described the broad outline of the standards ISO 17043 (2010): General requirements for proficiency testing and ISO 13528 (2005): Statistical methods for use in proficiency testing by interlaboratory comparison. The latter standard is a supplement to ISO Guide 43. It gives a detailed description of the statistical methods that must be used by those who set up proficiency tests and makes recommendations with respect to the use of these methods. The standard, among other things, mentions an indicative threshold value for judging the homogeneity of samples ; but Soraya Amarouche emphasized that this value is not always appropriate and may therefore be adjusted. The practical organization of inter-laboratory tests was discussed by the representatives of two NRLs, Karin Knappstein of the German NRL and Koen De Reu (ILVO-T&V) of the Belgian NRL, and by Thomas Berger of Agroscope (Switzerland). The aim of inter-laboratory tests was different for each of these speakers: comparison between routine devices and comparison between routine devices and with the reference method or determination of the value of reference material. In addition, Koen De Reu (ILVO-T&V) explained the process used for evaluating the 30

performance of the Belgian NRL by means of performance indicators as well as the financial penalty system linked to that process. It appeared from these accounts that the Belgian system is up to date when compared to the European developments in the field of analytical guidance. The representatives of all Member States were impressed by the completeness of the inter-laboratory tests presented and by the fact that part of these tests are done under accreditation: at the ILVO-T&V, some inter-laboratory tests are prepared under accreditation. It is therefore not surprising that many questions were asked to Koen De Reu when he had finished his presentation. Furthermore, the setting up of inter-laboratory tests was also at the centre of the presentations concerning the progress of EU-RL MMP studies and study projects on stability. As it is, the EU-RL MMP develops projects with a view to defining protocols on the treatment and the management of samples that are suitable for distributing tests among geographically distant laboratories. In that respect, the stability of raw goat’s milk samples, to which preservatives had or had not been added, was tested at 12°C over a 10 days period (Rabed Miled). This study showed that adding a mixture of boric acid, glycerol and potassium sorbate makes raw goat’s milk stable with respect to total flora. A project has been planned that deals with the formulation of raw cow milk samples that are naturally contaminated with somatic cells and are stable for that parameter (Alexandra Cauquil). The project was discussed and completed, more particularly on the basis of the information given by Koen De Reu on the method of preparation applied by the Belgian NRL to raw cow milk samples intended for inter-laboratory tests on somatic cell counting. Finally, more details were given on the protocol for checking the homogeneity and the stability of milk samples distributed for the purpose of the inter-laboratory test set up by the EU-RL MMP with a view to the determination of alkaline phosphatase (Caroline Vignaud, ANSES, Paris). Total flora As for the criterion « total flora », the validation of alternative methods and the establishment of their conversion relation are the main problems that need to be solved. The total flora of raw milk can be counted by means of an alternative method if that method has been validated against the reference method and when the rules of the ISO 16140 standard have been complied with. These rules have been established for foodstuffs and are not very appropriate and not very clear for the matrix in question: raw milk. In order to make these rules more explicit, the EU-RL MMP completed them with specific standards for milk, the FIL/IDF 161 standard that is being reviewed ( ISO 16297) and 128, and prepared a practical synthesis of the references to be consulted when implementing each of the validation points mentioned in standard ISO 16140 (Véronique Deperrois, ANSES, Paris). As for the conversion relation for alternative methods, the total flora of raw milk is determined by means of instrumental methods and specific conversion relations for each of the countries involved. At the previous meeting was made a suggestion to establish a working group that would have to examine whether these conversion relations can be harmonised at EU level (Ninane & Werbrouck, 2010). The EU-RL MMP initiated the feasibility study and suggested three statistical approaches that may be used to establish the incidence of the regional factor (geographic origin) on the conversion relation (Laurent Guillier, ANSES, Paris). The members who committed themselves to participate in the working group, including Véronique Ninane (CRA-W) for the Belgian NRL, will be invited to contribute to the further development of the study. Finally, the EU-RL MMP set up a study with a view to identify the factors that affect the conversion relation of the Bactocount (Bentley, USA) for counting the total flora in raw goat’s milk (Rabed Miled). 31

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